NEW ILLINOIS LAW DECRIMINALIZES LOW LEVEL CANNABIS POSSESSION AND IMPACTS DUI ENFORCEMENT
Marijuana possession in small amounts (less than 10 grams) in Illinois will be punishable by fines but not jail time after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation on July29, 2016 that makes the state the third largest to decriminalize minor pot offenses.
MARIJUANA POSSESSION OFFENSES ARE SUBSTANTIALLY CHANGED EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELYThe new law, which takes effect immediately, makes having 10 grams or less of marijuana a civil offense, punishable with a fine of up to $200. In essence, the Bill has eliminated the existing legislation recognizing cannabis possession as a class C (less than 2.5 grams) and class B (more than 2.5 but less than 10 grams) misdemeanor. The law would also require municipalities to purge citation records for possession every six months, unless local governments decide against it.
In addition to the foregoing, the new law also affects existing law regarding possession of somewhat larger amounts of cannabis. The amounts for Class A & class B Misdemeanors as well as a Class 4 Felony have also changed as follows:
o More than 10 but less than 30 grams is now a Class B (this use to be the Class A amount).
o More than 30 but less than 100 grams is now a Class A (30 to 500 grams use to be a class 4 Felony)
o More than 100 but less than 500 grams is now a Class 4 Felony (this effectively has raised the threshold from 30 grams to 100 grams to constitute a class 4 Felony)
The new law leaves higher level cannabis related felonies unchanged. The new bill also does not affect existing Possession with Intent to deliver offenses.
CANABIS RELATED DUI OFFENSES ALSO IMPACTEDAlmost lost in the new bill is the new laws ramification on DUI law involving cannabis. Previously, any amount of cannabis in a motorist's system would lead to a DUI under 501(a) (6). The existing law did not require proof that the motorist was inebriated, rather, the only showing required was that the motorist had any amount in their system. Marijuana advocates had long criticized Illinois' zero-tolerance approach because marijuana can stay in a person's system for several weeks and in some cases, approximately 45 days. . Under the new law, the State still does not have to prove inebriation. Instead, the State will have to prove that a minimum amount of tetrahydrocannabinol is in a person's system. The new law makes the standard 5 nanograms of THC, marijuana's intoxicating chemical, in a driver's blood within two hours of consumption the threshold. Previous legislation attempted to set the standard for marijuana DUI be 15 nanograms but was vetoed by the Governor.