As you may recall, both the Illinois House and Senate passed bills that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession and amend the DUI laws to establish a “legal limit” of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood (or proof of impairment) to prove a DUI cannabis case, as opposed to the current “any amount of cannabis” standard.
The Governor (and many police departments) felt that the 15 nanogram standard was too high. Colorado uses a 5 nanogram standard.
15 is a lot closer to 13 than 5. Maybe Governor Rauner is using a “Price is Right” standard where it is better to not “go over” than be closest.
If you wonder why we should get rid of a “zero tolerance” approach, here are a couple of my past blog posts to refresh your memory:
- Man gets 15 years for fatal DUI even though jury finds he was NOT impaired
- Why is this woman facing 6 to 28 years in prison?
From the Chicago Tribune (story by Monique Garcia):
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday used his veto powers to rewrite a bill aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying the measure that lawmakers sent him would let people carry too much pot and sets fines too low.
Rauner said while he supports the “fundamental purposes” of keeping people out of jail and cutting court costs, such a significant change in drug laws “must be made carefully and incrementally.” Sponsors of the bill pushed back, saying the changes are “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to reforming the criminal justice system and contending the governor is working against his own goal of reducing the number of prison inmates.
Under the proposal, people caught with up to 15 grams of marijuana — about the equivalent of 25 cigarette-sized joints — would not go to court but instead receive fines ranging from $55 to $125. Rauner said those standards were too lax and the threshold should be lowered to 10 grams and fines should range from $100 to $200.
The governor also took issue with a provision that would loosen the state’s zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of cannabis. Currently, a driver can be charged if any trace of marijuana is detected, even if it was ingested days or weeks before and a driver showed no signs of impairment.
The bill that lawmakers sent Rauner would have set new limits of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Rauner again argued that standard went too far in the opposite direction, suggesting the limit instead should be 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood…
The bill now returns to lawmakers, who can vote to go along with Rauner’s changes or reject them. If lawmakers opt not to take up the changes, the bill dies. Cassidy said she would have to regroup with supporters to decide the next move.