Is Illinois inching closer to legalizing marijuana?

A bill would make possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis a civil rather than a criminal infraction. It passed the Senate on Tuesday 41-14 with bipartisan votes.

Republican Sen. Dale Righter objected to the bill, saying the law sets a bad precedent for young people who abuse drugs. 

“Because this bill says if you, or you can get your parents to, write a $200 check, that’s all you need to do,” Righter said.

Democratic Sen. Bill Haine said the measure allows local jurisdictions to address those concerns.

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“If a local government chooses to do so, it could include drug addiction treatment as part of its local enforcement system,” Haine said.

If the bill becomes law, possession of 10 grams of cannabis would be a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $200.

The measure would also allow for Illinois drivers to have 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, in their blood when they’re behind the wheel.

Republican Sen. Kyle McCarter opposed the measure, saying law enforcement does not have the ability to properly judge whether a driver’s impairment level is a danger to the public. 

Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans said currently there aren’t clear standards on cannabis DUI at all.

“And particularly with now medical marijuana available here, you have any trace, that could get you driving under the influence even if that is something you had ingested weeks before,” Steans said.

Supporters of the measure say the bill matches changes Gov. Bruce Rauner made to a similar bill that failed last year.


(Copyright WBGZ /