Illinois residents may have heard about a drug ordinance passed by the Peoria City Council on May 9. It says that a person caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less would pay a $125 fine for a first offense. The fine would increase to $250 for a second offense and up to $750 for a fourth offense. That fine could be paid at City Hall in person or mailed there according to the city manager.
A state law that went into effect in 2017 eliminates the possibility of jail time for those caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana. Instead, it imposes a fine of up to $200. The previous marijuana possession law allowed for fines of up to $1,500 and six months in jail. Cities are allowed to impose their own penalties, and fines range from $50 in Urbana to up to $500 in Chicago.
Although the measure passed by a 6-5 vote, one member of the council believed that there should have been more discussion about the matter. However, another member mentioned that police officers were more worried about those under the influence of alcohol compared to those using marijuana. Most who attended the meeting were supporters of the effort to relax the penalties related to possessing the substance.
Those who are charged with drug offenses may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to create a defense that may result in a plea bargain or acquittal. Defenses may include claiming that the defendant was not aware that he or she was in possession of an illegal substance. If successful, an individual may avoid penalties such as paying a fine. Avoiding a conviction may also prevent an individual from losing a job.