Residents in the state of Illinois can now live worry free when it comes to being caught in possession of marijuana. Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2228 into law on July 29, removing all criminal penalties for people carrying up to 10 grams of marijuana.
Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, stated, "We applaud Governor Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois's needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy."
Law enforcement is now prohibited against arresting and charging people who are in possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis. Instead, the infraction will now count as a civil violation that will result in fines in the range of $100-200 (we'll take that over jail time!). In addition, civil marijuana infractions will be expunged from records every six months.
Rauner previously declined a less restrictive version of the bill last fall but he did work together with state police this summer to come up with new methods for the law. Advocates for marijuana say that the new law is a "vast improvement" for the state. Before the bill was signed, possession of up to 2.5 grams of cannabis was punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to $1,500 in fines. Possession of any amount between 2.5 and 10 grams could receive a six month jail sentence in addition to the $1,500 in fines.
"Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record and potential jail time for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol," said Lindsey. The new law is immediately in effect, making Illinois the 21st sate to decriminalize cannabis.