Governor Bruce Rauner has signed legislation, Senate Bill 2228 into law amending the state’s marijuana possession penalties.
The new law reduces the penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to six months in jail and a $ 1,500 fine) to a civil fine of no more than $ 200 — no arrest and no criminal record.
It also decriminalizes related offenses involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
Senate Bill 2228 also amends the state’s zero tolerance per se traffic safety law, stating that the presence of THC in blood at levels below 5ng/ml “shall not give rise to any presumption that the person was or was not under the influence of cannabis.”
According to the ACLU, Illinois police arrest some 50,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — ranking it #5 in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests. Those arrested are disproportionately people of color. For example, in Chicago, some 95 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession are either Black or Hispanic.
Illinois becomes the third largest state to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses.