Illinois Decriminalizes Low-Level Marijuana Possession
A recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch included some staggering statics about drug possession charges. According to the study, every 25 seconds, a person is arrested for a drug crime. The rates of arrest for possession or use of drugs has increased dramatically since President Nixon’s “War on Drugs” press conference in June of 1971. A significant portion of arrests made since then has been for marijuana possession . In fact, according to the Washington Post , marijuana-related arrests occur more often than all arrests for violent crimes combined.
The high rate of non-violent drug crime arrests has led many around the country to question the effectiveness and the necessity of such drastic measures. Prison overpopulation has become a major concern in many states, including Illinois. Observers and advocates for change point out that those convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses continue to take up prison space that could be used to house more dangerous, violent offenders.
In the state of Illinois, the official approach to marijuana has begun to evolve in recent years, beginning with the approval of a medical marijuana program back in 2013. This summer, lawmakers made a significant statement on the matter by approving a measure that decriminalized low-level possession of marijuana. An offense that could once be charged as a misdemeanor is now the rough equivalent of a parking ticket in Illinois.
According to the new law, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is still illegal but will result in the issuance of a citation which carries fines of between $100 and $200. Individual municipalities have the freedom to add additional fines and penalties, including the requirement to attend drug counseling or treatment. Marijuana citations are also expunged automatically every six months, on January 1 and July 1, meaning that low-level possession offenses will not follow an offender forever.
The new law also provides the state’s first standard for impaired driving related to marijuana. Despite studies suggesting that such standards have no scientific validity, a driver found to have 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of saliva in his or her system can be charged with driving under influence of marijuana.
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If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or DUI related to the drug, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. We are equipped to provide the responsible, affordable representation you need to protect your future and your rights.