Drugs – cannabis possession
· Governor Rauner consults with Illinois State Police on cannabis possession bill. A measure passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly this spring will, if signed into law, reduce criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Current law (the Cannabis Control Act) sets up a complex table of penalties for simple possession of cannabis. Under the law, simple possession of less than 10 grams of pot (less than 0.4 oz.) cannot be charged higher than a Class B misdemeanor. Under the law, a judge may sentence someone convicted of a Class B misdemeanor to up to six months in county jail.
Few cases of possession of this volume of cannabis result in substantial county jail time. A perpetrator is more likely to face a multi-stage disposition that may include court supervision, payment of a fine, mandatory substance abuse counseling, and return to the court at a later date to determine whether the disposition should remain part of a public record that names the defendant. The legislation currently on the Governor’s desk, SB 2228, takes steps to reclassify the possession of very small quantities of cannabis from a misdemeanor criminal offence to a civil offense. Instead of being arrested, defendants would be issued a citation and face a different court process to dispose of their case. They would pay a fine of $100 to $200 for a first offense. 16 other states have already reclassified the possession of small quantities of cannabis as a civil offense.