Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Friday that removes criminal penalties for possession of a personal amount of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine. The new law is effective immediately.
SB 2228, introduced by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100-$200. With its enactment, adults no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record. The new law largely mirrors legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who also sponsored this year’s bill, and reflects amendments Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed when he vetoed a similar bill last year.
Previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 Illinois communities had already removed local criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.
Illinois is now the 21st state in the nation, in addition to the District of Columbia, to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.
Statement from Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied in support of the bill:
“We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois’s needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy. This commonsense legislation will prevent countless citizens from having their lives turned upside down by a marijuana possession arrest.
“Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record and potential jail time for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for people who commit serious crimes, not low-level marijuana offenses.”