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Illinois Senate Passes Revised Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Posted on in Lake County Defense Attorney

marijuana, decriminalization, Lake County drug crime defense lawyerLawmakers in Illinois took a major step toward the decriminalization of low-level marijuana possession this week as the State Senate approved a measure that was drafted to address Governor Bruce Rauner’s concerns from last year. If enacted, Illinois would join 20 other states and the District of Columbia which have already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Decriminalization, Not Legalization

While many around the state and across the country continue to push for the outright legalization of recreational marijuana, the bill currently before the legislature would do no such thing.  Instead, it would remove the possibility of criminal prosecution for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Low-level possession would still be against the law, but it would be addressed as a civil offense, similar to a traffic violation. Possession of more than 10 grams could still be prosecuted in criminal court, with penalties dependent upon the circumstances of each case.

Another Chance

In 2015, the Illinois House and Senate both approved a very similar decriminalization bill, but the measure died on the governor’s desk. Governor Rauner expressed his belief that the proposal was too permissive regarding the amount of marijuana it addressed and too lenient regarding the fines. Last year’s bill sought to decriminalize marijuana possession of up to 15 grams, and would have levied fines between $55 and $125 per offense.

This year’s version was developed with governor’s objections in mind, dropping the allowable amount to 10 grams. Fines were raised as well, with possible penalties ranging from $100 to $200. Individual municipalities would be permitted to add to the state’s fines, and could also impose additional consequences, including required drug treatment. The bill would also allow citations to be completely wiped from the individual’s record twice per year.

Opponents’ Concerns

Many of those who oppose the current measure believe that 10 grams of marijuana is still far too much to decriminalize. They are also concerned that the automatic expungements could make it more difficult, in some cases, for those who truly need help for substance abuse to get it in the future. Some critics have even gone so far as to suggest that the measure would actually encourage drug use.

The bill must be approved by the House before heading to Governor Rauner’s desk once again.

Charged With Marijuana Possession?

If you are facing criminal charges for drug possession under the state’s existing laws, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Lake County. You deserve a legal advocate who will work hard to protect your rights and Attorney Matthew R. Gebhardt is ready to fight for you. Call 847-239-4703 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-illinois-legislature-met-0420-20160419-story.html

http://wgntv.com/2016/04/19/marijuana-decriminalization-bill-passes-state-senate/

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