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Illinois Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Goes Back To General Assembly For Final Approval

illinois marijuana

(via firedoglake.com)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto Friday of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amount of marijuana, sending it back to the General Assembly for final approval.

The General Assembly has 15 days from the next session date to approve the amended version of HB 218, which needs to receive a simple majority vote in the House and then the Senate to officially become law. The original version, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23.

Gov. Rauner’s amended version of HB 218 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a fine of up to $200 with no possibility of jail time, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record. The original version applied to possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana and set the amount of the fine at up to $125.

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500, and possession of more than 2.5 grams and up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 localities in Illinois have adopted measures that reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession.

Illinois would be the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults. Twenty other states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws removing the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession, four of which have made possession legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

HB 218 also establishes a per se limit at which drivers are automatically deemed to be impaired by marijuana based on the level of active THC in the blood. Gov. Rauner’s amended version lowers the limit from 15 ng/mL to five ng/mL. Illinois currently has a zero tolerance law that considers drivers to be impaired if they have any amount of THC in their bodies, including inactive THC metabolites that can be detectable for several weeks after consuming marijuana.

Statement from Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied in support of the bill:

“We hope the General Assembly will approve the amended bill and replace Illinois’ needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a more sensible policy. Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record and potential jail time for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for people who commit serious crimes, not low-level marijuana offenses.

“The governor’s version is not preferable to the original bill, but it is still commonsense legislation. It will still prevent countless citizens from having their lives turned upside down by an arrest for simple marijuana possession. This is a major victory for Rep. Cassidy and the Assembly, and it is an important step forward for Illinois.”

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The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.


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Johnny Green


  1. “Democrats do not need any R votes to keep the original bill. My bet is,
    Michael Madigan (the Chair of the state Democrats and Speaker of the
    House for more than 30 years) will side with Republican Rauner and will
    not even let them vote on over-riding the veto. Madigan will only let
    them vote on approving Rauner’s amendments.”

    I was wrong, its even worse than I thought. Madigan wouldn’t even let them vote on approving Rauner’s amended veto. That means the entire bill failed. Jail time for cannabis is still the law in Illinois after the Democrats failed to act on this decrim bill.

    To recap, a decrim bill was passed by the IL House and Senate and went to the Governor. The Governor used a veto on it where he is allowed to make changes to the bill without vetoing the entire bill. Rauner increased the fines associated with being caught with cannabis and reduced the amount of cannabis one can be caught with for it to be a fine.

    After the veto, the Democrat controlled House and Senate had three options. Vote to override the veto and pass the bill in its original form. Vote to accept the veto and pass the bill as amended by the Governor. Or do absolutely nothing and just let the bill die, which keeps the current criminal structure in place. The Democrats (Madigan) chose to do nothing, so being caught with cannabis is still a crime punishable with jail time instead of a fine.

    I don’t know if links are allowed here, but this is the Rockford Register story on the decrim bill’s death.


    On the medical cannabis front in Illinois, there still has not been even one patient who has been able to get cannabis for their medical issues. Its been three years.

    And now we have the first Doctor in Illinois facing the loss of his medical license for recommending cannabis to a patient that didn’t meet the programs very strict rules about the Doctor-patient relationship. (Google Dr. Joseph Starkman Highland Park)

    Those strict rules are why a huge chunk of medical cannabis applicants are being turned down by the state. And now it looks like Lisa Madigan (Attorney General) will be aggressively using those very strict rules to punish Doctor’s who don’t follow them to a T.

    Get out of Illinois if you can. :)

  2. Are you really that simple-minded to believe a person can’t argue emotionally WITH facts? I provided all kinds of verifiable facts. “You clearly argue with emotion instead of facts.” Nope, this statement is a false characterization that is obviously wrong. I’m sorry if you can’t handle being corrected, but you are clearly just pulling things out of thin air that simply aren’t true. Take another look at all the facts the provided and re-think you’re knee jerk reaction with that false statement.

    Passing judgement on others is what human beings do. If you vote, you are passing judgement. If you wrongly claim someone argues without facts, you are passing judgement. If you claim someone lets anger cloud their judgement, you are passing judgement. Don’t be that simple-minded. Besides, there is nothing wrong with being angry about the millions of human beings that are locked in cages because of cannabis. We need more people getting pissed off and angry about that if we want to change the status quo. If we refuse to pass judgement on the barbarians that enjoy locking people in cages for cannabis we are giant fools.

    If you apologized you must have gone back and edited your comment because it wasn’t there when I read it. I’m replying from disqus so I don’t even know if its there now. Its good advice to let it go and not respond, which is what you should have done in the first place instead of passing judgement and arguing without providing any facts of your own. I’ve got a feeling you are the type that hates getting corrected when you are wrong and have to have the last word. Good luck with that. I have no problem with people being angry and emotional when they argue, but to falsely claim they do that without facts when umpteen facts are out there plain as day for everyone to see, well, that person needs to be called out on their nonsense.

  3. Huntsman smoker on

    Your anger clouds your judgement pal. Also passing judgment on others is wrong. You clearly argue with emotion instead of facts. I apologized and u still insist on insulting me, for what? I will not read any more on this post or respond to you again. Just let it go.

  4. Huntsman smoker on

    I just meant to call others stupid wasn’t only a bad idea but just not right. You don’t want to be called that. I only intended on having a constructive conversation. Sorry to offend you. Good luck in the future.

  5. Aww, can’t handle a little honesty and tough love? The biggest insult is when the voters repeatedly vote for politicians who will continue to lock cannabis consumers in cages. THAT is a real insult.

    Yes, when they vote like that, they are not only being stupid, but barbaric. Someone has call them out on their idiocy instead of coddling them, which only serves to bolster their habit of voting for barbarians.

    If you think we are all robots and respond the exact same way to being called stupid, you are a fool. You go right ahead and kiss the stupid voters’ behinds and tell them they are smart and win them over with unicorns and rainbows and it still won’t work on everyone. Some people need to be shocked out of their stupidity, not everybody, but certainly some.

    I’m not running for office or in any popularity contests anyway so I really don’t care if I insult stupid voters. They deserve it. If you care about that, bully for you, go to it, to each their own. I’m just not snooty enough to assume I know the right way for everybody else act or that I know best how other people should go about their business. Frankly, people like that are insulting.

  6. It is hopeless for the foreseeable future. Everyone should move out of Illinois ASAP. I will be doing that again very soon. If you want to move here and show us all how its done, be my guest, since you want to pretend you have all the answers.

    “If that’s the case then you need to blog in more places then here.” What makes you assume that isn’t the case already? That assumption is an insult. Get off your high horse and go do something besides arguing out of your rear end.

  7. Huntsman smoker on

    Also, calling voters stupid is an insult. You wouldn’t believe a damn thing someone told you or even listen to their point if they called you stupid before they made their point.

  8. Huntsman smoker on

    I never said it was easy, matter of fact I said “you seem to have a lot of work ahead of you”. And no I don’t live in IL ,but, you are still simply telling the rest of us how hopeless your situation is and are still conceding to your opponents. Remember, my advice was to educate the citizens of your state. U seem to be educated enough to do that, but SMTP telling them how hopeless the fight is or they won’t follow you. I know this is the weedblog and all, but your states citizens democratic right are being trampled on, if your statements are in fact correct. If that’s the case then you need to blog in more places then here. Good luck.

  9. We don’t vote for Speaker of the House, he has his own district. One of 118 in the House. Madigan even plants his own Republican candidate against him most years who doesn’t campaign. Sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to this state. Illinois is more corrupt that just about anywhere. If you don’t pull a Democrat ballot in the primary in parts of this state, bad things will begin happening to you and yours.

    Republicans are just as bad also. Rauner sent armed guards to the homes of people who signed the Libertarian candidate’s petition in an efforts to intimidate them to take back those signatures so the Libertarian wouldn’t be on the ballot. Guess where they learned that trick? The Democrats do the same thing showing up a people’s front doors with guns holstered and big thugs telling you what would be best for you to do.

    I spent more than a decade frantically trying to fight for democracy door to door, in the media, through the courts, and even on the ballot occasionally. Hardly made a blip except for a big court case win, and even that was only a blip in the grand scheme. When people do that in Illinois, they fight back hard, and they have the police, lawyers, judges, and thugs on their side. Unless you’ve got billions, yes, literally billions, you aren’t making a dent in Madigan’s fiefdom.

    I get what you are trying to say, but it isn’t nearly as easy as you’d make it sound. I’ve been shouting to everyone from the mountain tops to stop voting for ALL Democrats for 20 years now. Voters are stupid. They elected Illinois’ own corrupt Barack Obama. Twice. And now they are all giddy about Hillary.

  10. Huntsman smoker on

    Of course you can “fire” him, don’t vote for him. What you are doing is using past defeat to admit future defeat. Furthermore if the citizens of your state have their hands tied then forget marijuana reforms and focus on your rights to democracy first. You must first learn to stand before you can walk. And I didn’t mean you personally. But educating your fellow citizens is the first step. I’m no political analyst, but I do understand how they work and unfortunately you seem to have a lot of work ahead of you. Educate the people of IL on what should be their priority.

  11. The citizens of Illinois can not put a referendum on the ballot to legalize cannabis, like other states can. Democrats don’t want citizens to have that power or to have any voice on such issues.

    You also can not fire the elected officials in Illinois because the Democrats won’t allot anyone but Rs and Ds to get on the ballot. For the past 20+ years, more than 65% of all the state House and Senate races have been unopposed with only one candidate on the ballot. They violated the US Constitution for more than 25 years illegally keeping all Independents off the ballot (Lee vs Keith, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals).

    The Illinois Governor basically is powerless right now. Michael Madigan, Speaker of the House and Chair of the IL Democrats is the one with the vast majority of the power and he has been in office since 1971. If you want to try to FIRE Madigan, good luck, “the pile of political corpses outside Madigan’s Statehouse door of those who tried to beat him one way or another is a mile high and a mile wide.”

  12. Huntsman smoker on

    Sad thing is we all agree that pot is the lesser of 2 evils when compared to booze. Why doesn’t anybody have the guts to make the fine 0? Furthermore one thing everybody in the whole country is still missing. It is the CITIZENS making it legal, NOT their elected officials. Let’s FIRE those elected because none of them give a shit anyway. We could saved a tremendous amount of time if governor dickless and his cronies would just discuss it and vote on it and be done with it.

  13. AFreedomFighter88 on

    All the data from the Center for Disease Control clearly supports cannabis legalization. It is absolutely clear that cannabis is safer than the legal serial killers tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs which kill over 650,000 US citizens annually. Nothing the least bit complicated or hard to understand about these statistics taken directly from the CDC dot gov web site:
    Numbers of deaths per year in the USA
    * Prescription Drugs: 237,485 + 5,000 traffic fatalities
    * Tobacco: 390,323
    * Alcohol: 88,013 + 16,000 traffic fatalities
    * Cocaine: 4,906
    * Heroin: 3,365
    * Aspirin: 466
    * Acetaminophen (Tylenol): 179
    * Marijuana: 0, none, not a single fatal overdose in all medical history and almost no traffic problems
    So, which is safer?
    Legalize, regulate and TAX!

  14. If Democrats support banning smoking in bars, banning flavored cigarettes, banning trans fat, banning large sodas and banning guns, then obviously theyre gonna be anti freedom when it comes to pot…….. What do you expect?

  15. To approve Rauner’s changes to the original bill, all they need is a simple majority, as this article states. However, they can over-ride Rauner’s changes with a 60% vote in each chamber and keep the bill the same as it was originally passed.

    Since Rauner’s changes are worse than the original bill, they should keep the original bill. Sorry MPP, but you should have stuck by the original bill and not these worse changes from Rauner.

    The Democrats have more than 60% of the votes in each of the House and Senate, called a veto-proof majority. The Democrats do not need one single Republican vote to keep this bill as originally drafted. We’ll soon find out what Madigan and his Democrats are made of. Will they cower to the Governor’s veto making this bill worse, or will they stand up for Illinois citizens and do what is right, which is to over-ride the Governor’s veto?

    Original bill decrim’ed up to 15 grams with $125 fine. Rauner wants only 10 grams with a $200 fine. Screw that, stick with the original. Original bill also had a per se limit on driving of 15ng/mL. Rauner wants 5ng/mL. Again, screw that, stick with the original.

    Democrats do not need any R votes to keep the original bill. My bet is, Michael Madigan (the Chair of the state Democrats and Speaker of the House for more than 30 years) will side with Republican Rauner and will not even let them vote on over-riding the veto. Madigan will only let them vote on approving Rauner’s amendments. Madigan has always been anti-cannabis and anti-hemp, along with his daughter Lisa Madigan the Attorney General. Lisa is the one who successfully argued that a drug dog sniff is not a search to SCOTUS so that they can continue to use drug dogs without a warrant or probable cause.

    How anyone can still consider themselves a Democrat in Illinois is beyond me, that party is despicable, which isn’t a defense of the Republicans either. If only independents were allowed to run for state office without the sickening ballot access discrimination from the Democrats, Illinois might have some hope for the future. Illinois Democrats do not even believe in democracy and should change the name of their party to the single party control freaks.

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