Rauner likely to OK marijuana decriminalization bill

SHARE Rauner likely to OK marijuana decriminalization bill

A man rolls a marijuana joint during a demonstration to call for the legalisation of marijuana, on May 14, 2016 in Paris, France. / AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday said he’d “probably be comfortable” with a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The bill, approved by a 64-50 vote by the Illinois House on Wednesday, would ensure no one in Illinois could be criminally charged for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. The Senate passed the measure in April with a 40-14 vote.

Rauner last year vetoed a bill to make possession of up to 15 grams of pot a ticketable offense, saying it would allow people to carry too much pot and that fines should be more than $55 to $125.

The governor was also concerned about the bill’s approach to driving under the influence of cannabis. The bill Rauner vetoed last year had a limit of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. He argued that was too much and suggested it be 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

The state currently has a zero tolerance policy for marijuana.

The new Senate version of the bill — sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, picked up recommendations from Rauner’s amendatory veto – allowing people who carry even less marijuana — 10 grams — to face slightly larger fines of $100 to $200.

Tickets would be automatically expunged twice a year. And local municipalities could choose to impose other penalties or require drug treatment.

Steans’ bill could save taxpayers as much as $24 million a year.

On Thursday, Rauner said he’s still reviewing the bill but would likely support it if the language fits his recommendations.

“I’ll probably be comfortable with it. I’ve got to see what’s there,” Rauner said.

Chicago has already joined more than 100 Illinois local governments in removing some criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Under current law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is considered a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail with the possibility of a $1,500 fine, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Possession of more than 2.5 grams is punishable by up to six months in jail with a possibility of a $1,500 fine.

If made into law, Illinois would become the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana possession.

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