Illinois State Police respond to bill signing to reduce marijuan - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois State Police respond to bill signing to reduce marijuana penalties

(Source: United States Fish and Wildlife Service Wikimedia Commons) (Source: United States Fish and Wildlife Service Wikimedia Commons)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes marijuana possession in small amounts punishable only with fines and no jail time.

A state official with knowledge of the governor's decision told The Associated Press the bill was signed Friday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the signing had not been announced yet.

The new law changes the penalty for the possession of 10.0 grams or less of cannabis to a civil law violation, carrying a minimum fine of $100, and a maximum fine of $200.

Persons found in possession of not more than 10.0 grams of cannabis can be issued a citation and be required to appear in court for the violation. ISP officers will no longer be required to fingerprint, photograph, and either collect bond or transport defendants to jail.

Confiscated cannabis and drug paraphernalia will be seized and placed into evidence. Following the adjudication of the citation in court, seized cannabis and paraphernalia will be destroyed, and the charge against the defendant will be expunged on or before the following July 1st or January 1st.

The governor's signature makes Illinois the 17th state - and the third largest - to treat possession of marijuana in small amounts as a civil offense rather than a criminal one.

The legislation also sets a standard for what's considered too high to drive.

“The safety of Illinois citizens, and the motoring public, will always remain the utmost priority of the Illinois State Police (ISP). ISP officers will continue to enforce the law, while being mindful of the penalty changes for smaller amounts of cannabis,” said ISP Director Leo P. Schmitz.

“The public is reminded that cannabis possession without a medical marijuana card is still illegal; the penalty and fines have changed. In addition, drivers under the influence of cannabis will still be arrested and prosecuted.”

Local ordinances regarding fines for the possession of cannabis and related drug paraphernalia are not impacted.

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Copyright 2016 KFVS.  All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

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