Last Friday, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure that effectively decriminalizes cannabis in the state. The new law states that anyone caught with up to 10 grams will be fined anywhere from $100-200.
Previously, possession of cannabis was a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1500 fine. Citations issued would also be expunged on both the first of January and July.
The law also affects the current policy on driving while under the influence of cannabis. Prior to signing the law anyone caught with any amount of cannabis in their system would be charged with a DUI, no matter how miniscule the amount. Under the new law drivers with 5 nanograms in their blood or 10 nanograms in their saliva will be charged.
Governor Rauner is following in the footsteps of the city of Chicago, which already decriminalized small amounts of cannabis back in 2012. The aim of the new law is to reduce court costs and the load on municipal and county courts.
Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement, “We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois’s needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy.”
Decriminalization is not the same as legalization; people caught with cannabis will still face fines, they just won’t obtain a criminal record. This is still a huge step forward, when you consider how conservative governor Rauner is. With the state of Florida harvesting its first crop of cannabis and now Illinois passing this law, it seems red states and red governors are finally starting to go green.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!