A recent measure signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to make small amounts of cannabis possession a civil offense rather than a criminal one says it could save the state's prisons millions, according to one state representative.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) pushed for a measure last year decriminalizing possession of 15 grams, which the governor amended to 10 grams with a veto.
This year, lawmakers took the governor's changes and passed it through both chambers of the General Assembly. The governor signed the law Friday. Cassidy says the law could save the state's prison system an estimated $10 million a year.
“And that’s only at the state level. That’s not where most of the people are actually being held. Most of the time and impact is at our county jails either pre-trial or with misdemeanor time served and with our law enforcement's time on the streets,” Cassidy said.
The law makes possession of 10 or fewer grams of marijuana a finable offense of no more than $200.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) applauded the governor’s signing of the bill, and said this means some young people won't have a criminal cloud over their future.
“You get these records and you can’t get hired, you can’t employment, you can’t get housing,” she said. “The repercussions are ridiculous.”
However, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Director Ed Wojcicki said his organization has issues with modifying the DUI standard from zero tolerance for marijuana to allowing some threshold for drivers.
“Society still has to sort out how they’re going to deal with drivers who have small amounts of cannabis in their systems,” he said.
Advocates of the law suggest the science of testing impaired drivers continues to evolve and become more fine-tuned.