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Proposed Changes to Illinois Law on Marijuana Possession

Posted on in Criminal Law

Illinois law, marijuana possession, Crystal Lake Criminal Defense AttorneysA new Illinois law has been proposed that seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, allowing for fines instead of imprisonment for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Additionally, if the proposed fine is paid, the fined person would eventually have the record and the nature of the fine expunged. The changes proposed under the new law are aimed at reducing jail and prison overcrowding, and also helping people possessing small amounts of marijuana avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction.

Currently, Illinois law provides for a fine of $1,500 and between 30 days to six months in jail for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Amounts over 10 grams carry prison terms of one to 15 years. The change from prosecuting to fining people for possession of small amounts of marijuana is not an entirely new concept, and cities like Chicago already have such systems in place. The proposed law would provide a uniform benchmark for how possession of small amounts of marijuana would be handled statewide.

The proposed law would also affect what would trigger a person to be charged with DUI based on marijuana. Currently, the DUI law is considered zero tolerance when it comes to marijuana and driving. Any amount of marijuana detected on a person's breath, blood, or urine can be sufficient to charge a person with DUI. This means that a driver who smoked or used marijuana weeks before being stopped by police may be charged with a DUI upon testing positive for the drug, without necessarily being impaired. The proposed law would base a charge of DUI involving marijuana on the amount detected, taking into consideration that marijuana can be detected for at least 30 days after use.

Four states in the country allow the recreational use of marijuana, and about half the country, including Illinois, allows for limited medical use of the drug. These proposed changes are a common sense approach to regulating the use of marijuana, and may also address charges of racial bias in the arrest and criminal prosecution of those arrested with low levels of marijuana. The bill is awaiting approval from the Illinois House of Representatives, and is then expected to move to the governor's desk. Although the governor vetoed a similar law last year, this proposed bill is expected to pass as it takes into consideration and changes some of the issues the governor had with the previous bill.

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If you have been arrested and charged with a drug offense, or a DUI based on driving while under the influence of a drug, you need a criminal defense attorney with experience handling similar cases. Reach out to our skilled Crystal Lake criminal defense attorneys at our law firm for a free consultation and to let us assist you with your case.




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