The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Illinois Lawmakers Are Poised To Decriminalize Pot Possession

By aaroncynic in News on May 20, 2016 2:02PM

Possessing small amounts of pot could become less criminal in Illinois, if Gov. Bruce Rauner signs a bill the House sent to his desk on Wednesday.

According to the legislation, those caught and possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana would face fines between $100 and $200, rather than facing a trial where they could end up getting a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,500. Additionally, the measure slightly loosens restrictions Illinois’ current zero-tolerance policy on marijuana and driving. Currently, drivers found with any trace of pot in their system—even if it was toked long before and they’re not impaired, can be charged with a DUI. Drivers found with less than 5 nanograms of THC in their blood or less than 10 in their saliva would be let off the hook.

"Illinois is long overdue for creating marijuana policies that treat our residents more fairly and free law enforcement up for more serious crime," Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the bill’s chief sponsor in the House, told the Chicago Tribune.

Cassidy reintroduced the legislation in January after Rauner vetoed a different version of the bill in 2015. Rauner took umbrage with the initial version for going too far too fast. Had that version passed, the fines would’ve been lower—about half as much. The carrying threshold would have been 15 grams, and the limit to nanograms in the bloodstream for driving would have been 15.

This time around, it seems more likely Rauner will put his stamp of approval on the measure. According to the Bloomington Pantagraph, the governor said Thursday he would “probably be comfortable with it.”