State decriminalizes possession of small amounts of pot

Possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis in Illinois is now a civil violation instead of a criminal one, regardless of where you live.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the measure Friday that makes the possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense with a fine of no more than $200.

Director of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws Dan Linn said various cities throughout the state had different possession laws before the law was signed. That lead to disparate enforcement raising questions about racial and geographic prejudice.

“And now we have a law that will impact every individual in the same way and won’t be dependent on those subjective variables,” Linn said.

Linn said it’s now time to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis.

“We’ll see that people will really have more respect for law and law enforcement officers and we’ll be able to say that we live in a free and open country that allows adults to make adult decisions,” Linn said.

Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems Executive Director Anita Bedell said relaxing cannabis possession and DUI laws will lead to more use among young people as well as more intoxicated drivers on the roads.

“There’s no way to measure that right and it’s going to have a lot of problems and death in Illinois,” Bedell said.

However, the Illinois State Police said in a statement that no changes have been made to their DUI practices.

“The public is reminded that cannabis possession without a medical marijuana card is still illegal; the penalty and fines have changed,” ISP Director Leo P. Schmitz said. “In addition, drivers under the influence of cannabis will still be arrested and prosecuted.”

Those cited will see their charges expunged on or before the following July 1 or January 1, depending on the date of the citation.

The law takes effect immediately.

–Illinois News Network, with Staff reports

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