Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill Friday (July 29, 2016) that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Under Senate Bill 2228, violators who possess up to 10 grams of marijuana will be charged fines of $100 to $200 rather than face criminal prosecution. The law takes effect immediately.
Under previous Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams was a Class C misdemeanor, and the penalty was as much as 30 days in jail. Possession of 2.5 grams to 10 grams of cannabis was a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty was as much as six months in jail and fines as high as $1,500.
The new law also expunges citations twice a year, meaning a citation for a small amount of marijuana will not become part of a violator’s permanent record.
The law was aimed, in part, at reducing the expense of enforcement and prosecution of offenses that involve small amounts of the drug. According to a report by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, cost savings would add up to more than $23.8 million over a three-year period.
“These changes would result in lower system costs for arrest and processing; fewer incarcerations overall; shorter prison and jail stays for these offenses; reduced probation and supervision costs; and revenue generated from the petty offense tickets,” the report said.
According to the law, local municipalities can add to the fines and can add requirements such as drug counseling.
Sentencing Changes Under the Cannabis Control Act