On December 11, Kentucky Senator Perry Clark filed the “Cannabis Legalization Act.” The proposed law would legalize and regulate marijuana the same way the state does with alcohol. Over the past few years, we in Illinois have watched our neighboring states get a little bit more relaxed with their marijuana enforcement. Iowa passed a bill allowing medicinal use earlier this year. Missouri will probably vote on legalization next year. Nine of the 10 largest cities in Wisconsin have decriminalized. Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan, decriminalized marijuana earlier this month.
So, what’s the status of marijuana in Illinois?
Under the current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a class C misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by a maximum 30 days in jail. Possession of 2.5-10 grams is a class B misdemeanor. It’s punishable with up to six months in jail. Getting caught with more than 10-30 grams is a class A misdemeanor. This charge comes with a one year maximum sentence. Each charge comes with potential fines in addition to the jail time. Illinois is very hard on possession charges. Twenty states and Washington D.C. don’t give jail sentences for simple marijuana possession. Illinois still does.
Over 100 cities across our state have already decriminalized marijuana to some degree. (I.e., it’s the police officer’s call as to whether someone is given a ticket or arrested for possession.) A new bill introduced this month by Rep. Kelly Cassidy will replace criminal penalties for possession with a fine (for a small amount of pot, a large amount will still get you in trouble). The bill aims to make the laws consistent state-wide.
House Bill 4357 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana punishable by a fine. Instead of facing jail time that would affect people’s lives forever, they’d get a ticket. Rep. Cassidy says the new law would save millions of dollars that would be spent on jailing minor offenders. The bill is expected to go before Governor Rauner next year.
If you have any questions about Illinois marijuana laws, don’t hesitate to contact Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. You can reach us at (312) 644-0444.