By OCC Staff
August 1, 2016 –
On Friday, July 29th, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2228 decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. Effective immediately, the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is a only civil offense punishable by a small fine of between $100 and $200.
Also, law enforcement would have to expunge the record of anyone who received a civil citation for possession of under 10 grams within 6 months “after the resolution of the offense.” This was done expecting the expungement would reduce the chance that possession of small amounts of marijuana might interfere in employment or school attendance issues.
Previously possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana a Class C misdemeanor in Illinois and punishable by up to 30 days in jail. Up to 10 grams was a Class B misdemeanor and could receive up to six months in jail.
What is also important is the cost savings. There is a lot of expenses involved in just processing a person for a Class B or C misdemeanor crime. In fact, millions will be saved, according to some experts.
“Not only does this reform stop wasting police resources that can be better focused on more serious crimes, it’ll save the state millions in enforcement and incarceration costs. According to a financial impact analysis by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, exchanging criminal penalties for civil fines would result in a net benefit of up to $24 million to the state of Illinois over three years, including $15.1 million in avoided incarceration and probation costs and up to $9.1 million in estimated ticket revenue from the fines.”
In 2014 only 672 people were in jail in Illinois for cannabis infractions. That may seem like only a few, but consider that the cost of housing each offender for a year is over $22,000, which adds up quickly. Governor Rauner intends to reduce the Illinois prison population by 25% before 2025.
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