Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed several bills into law regarding marijuana possession in the state. Some of these new laws have decriminalized the substance in certain circumstances. Does this mean marijuana is now legal in Illinois?
Decriminalization is Not Legalization
When something is decriminalized, it is not necessarily legalized. In terms of the new drug laws in Illinois, marijuana possession in amounts less than 10 grams and that are clearly not for distribution has been decriminalized, meaning it is no longer a misdemeanor crime. Instead of facing the possibility of six months in jail and paying thousands of dollars in fines and fees, people will be handed a citation, much like a traffic ticket. Penalties for marijuana citations can be as small as $100, cannot cause the person to be sent to jail, and also do not put a criminal mark on their record.
In situations in which the offender has more than 10 grams but less than 15 grams of marijuana in their possession for personal, recreational use, an element of discretion is introduced. Police officers and their parent municipalities can use their better judgement to determine what would be more beneficial for everyone: arresting the individual or giving them a steeper citation, up to $500. Rauner's goal is to clear up the state's court systems, which have been historically crammed with cases concerning minor violations, such as marijuana possession in small amounts. With this in mind, it is likely that most incidents of possession under 15 grams will end in nothing more than a citation.
How the Law Impacts DUIs
Driving with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in your bloodstream is illegal in Illinois, but the new laws have changed how much THC constitutes a DUI. Previously, a zero-tolerance law meant that any detectable amount of THC in a person's blood or saliva meant they would be arrested for a misdemeanor DUI. The recently-signed bills introduce a THC minimum threshold of 5 nanograms detectable in the blood or 10 nanograms for saliva tests. Drivers with less than the new amounts cannot be considered to be illegally impaired by marijuana when driving.
Learn more about these changes, or get legal help after being arrested for a DUI or drug possession, by calling (309) 565-8825 and connecting with our Springfield DUI attorneys at Johnson Law Group. You can also use an online form to schedule your free initial consultation with our team today.