Possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana would be punishable by a maximum fine of $200 under legislation advanced Tuesday in the Illinois Senate.
The legislation, Senate Bill 2228, includes changes suggested by Gov. Bruce Rauner when he issued an amendatory veto last year for similar legislation.
The previous bill would have made possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana punishable by a fine of $55 to $125.
The new bill would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana punishable by a fine ranging between $100 and $200.
The measure also seeks to change the zero-tolerance DUI law in Illinois regarding marijuana. Under the proposal, only drivers with a TCH level of 5 nanograms or higher in their blood or 10 nanograms or higher in their saliva would face DUI charges.
The Rauner administration is “encouraged to see the General Assembly on a path to accept the governor's changes and will continue monitoring the legislation as it moves forward,” the governor's spokeswoman Catherine Kelly told the Chicago Tribune.
The bill now goes to the House.
Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, and Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, voted in favor of the measure.
Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, did not vote.
Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, voted against the measure, tweeting that it “sends an awful message” to youths.
Chris Lindsey, a senior legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said: “Illinois spends way too much money imposing costly criminal penalties on people who are found in possession of a personal amount of marijuana. Serious penalties should be reserved for people who commit serious crimes, not used to punish marijuana consumers. Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.”
Under current state law, possession of as little as 2.5 grams of marijuana carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a fine up to $1,500.