News Local/State

Rauner Signs Bill Reducing Pot Penalties


Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes marijuana possession in small amounts punishable only with fines and no jail time.  A state official with knowledge of the governor's decision told The Associated Press the bill was signed Friday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the signing had not been announced yet.

The signing was also annouced by the Marijuana Policy Project in a press release.

“We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois’s needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy," said Chris Lindsey, Senior Legislative Counsel.  "This common sense legislation will prevent countless citizens from having their lives turned upside down by a marijuana possession arrest."

The new law means possessing 10 grams of pot or less will be a civil offense punishable with a fine of up to $200. The governor's signature makes Illinois the 17th state - and the third largest - to treat possession of marijuana in small amounts as a civil offense rather than a criminal one.
The legislation also sets a standard for what's considered too high to drive.

Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz also issued a statement Friday.

"ISP officers will continue to enforce the law, while being mindful of the penalty changes for smaller amounts of cannabis,” said Schmitz.  “The public is reminded that cannabis possession without a medical marijuana card is still illegal; the penalty and fines have changed.  In addition, drivers under the influence of cannabis will still be arrested and prosecuted.”