Decriminalization of Marijuana in Illinois Due to New Law

The state of Illinois has become noticeably more lenient on marijuana users after Republican Governor Rauner signs several new laws into effect in late July 2016. The move comes as a bit of a surprise to Democrats, liberals, and marijuana activists since no more than a year ago, Rauner was pushing to limit the drug's use in the state; he had previously used an amendatory veto to change legislation that he viewed as too forgiving for marijuana offenders.

The changes he has enacted begin with decriminalizing marijuana possession in most instances throughout the state. Carrying 10 grams or less is no longer considered a drug crime that can be punished by 6 months in jail and a $1,500 fine – in line with other class B misdemeanors – but is now instead an infraction. Traditionally, infractions only penalize people with a fine and spare them an arrest and criminal record.

When someone is found with more than 10 grams but less than 15 grams of marijuana on their person, police can now use their own discretion about making an arrest. If there is no evidence of trafficking or distribution, the officer can decide to issue a heavier infraction – up to $500 instead of $200 – to use as the only penalty. For recreational marijuana users throughout the state, the changes should mean far less arrests in the future, which clears up the state's overburdened court system.

"Stoned" Driving Less Illegal

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the substance in marijuana and cannabis that alters the mind and creates the high. It is known to linger for exceptionally long times in the human body, well after the impairment has faded entirely. This lingering nature of the chemical compound has spurred a big change in Illinois's DUI laws.

Previously, any amount of THC found in a person's bloodstream or saliva could trigger a DUI arrest; someone who used marijuana five days prior, for example, could be arrested despite not being impaired. The new law, which was packaged with several others Rauner approved, only makes it illegal to drive with 5+ nanograms of THC in the bloodstream, or 10+ nanograms of THC in the saliva. Despite the changes, as a rule of caution, no one should drive for several hours after using marijuana recreationally or for medical purposes; THC can affect different people in different ways, and what might have no impact on one person could make another feel "stoned."

If you would like more information regarding the new drug laws and DUI laws in Illinois, contact Johnson Law Group. Our Peoria DUI attorneys can also assist you if you have been arrested for marijuana possession or for driving while impaired. Call (309) 565-8825 today.

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