Bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and amend DUI-cannabis law passes both Illinois Houses

In addition to passing a major revision to the license reinstatement law, both the Illinois House and Senate have passed HB 218, which would make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a fine only violation, not a crime as it is now.

Now, how the average person would know whether they have 15 grams or less of marijuana on their person, I really don’t know.  The Chicago Tribune claims that it is the equivalent of 25 joints, but that is not an exact science.  What if you like to have a fatty?

Keep in mind that this law doesn’t prevent the police from arresting you and charging you for possession, pending a weight determination.  Also, testing positive for marijuana might cost you your job or revoke your probation.

The bill would also change Illinois’ DUI laws.  Instead of our current DUI laws, which makes it a DUI to have any amount of cannabis in one’s blood, breath or urine, regardless of actual impairment, including metabolite which can remain in a person’s system for a month or more after usage, the law would now require either actual impairment as a result of marijuana usage, or 15 nanograms or more of cannabis in a person’s blood.  Illinois will still remain a “zero tolerance” state when it comes to having any amount of another controlled substance in your system while driving, but it should be pointed out that cocaine and heroin leave a person’s blood system much faster than marijuana.

Illinois is taking its first steps towards marijuana legalization

Last month, I posted about a bill pending in the state legislature that would lessen the penalties for marijuana possession, including making possession of 10 grams or less a fine only violation.

Today, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that “Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said he will introduce a resolution at the May 21 County Board meeting asking the General Assembly to put together…a task force to pursue legalizing and regulating the drug in Illinois.”

The article goes to state:

Fritchey and Mitchell were joined by Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, and North Side Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy at a news conference calling for the task force, which would be charged with studying the issue and ultimately introducing legislation to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana.

The state should “make sure that we focus on who truly needs to be in our jails and prisons, and get the people that make mistakes or have a substance abuse problem into the right kind of environment,” Zalewski said.

The Tribune looks into Illinois’ Drug Induced Homicide law

Last March I wrote about Illinois’ Drug Induced Homicide law, which makes it a Class X felony if someone gives another person a narcotic that causes death.  My problem was that the law, as written, is extremely overbroad and covers situations such as where a boyfriend and girlfriend share heroin, one dies, and the other gets 15 to 30 years in prison for surviving.

Now Christy Gutowski of the Chicago Tribune has written an lengthy piece about this law, which can be found here.  In it, she quotes me, which of course makes her brilliant.

So please take a look at it.

The article is timely as it is appearing a day after the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who apparently died of a heroin overdose.  It has been reported that Hoffman had a drug problem when he was younger, and had gone 23 years of being clean and sober until a relapse one or two years ago.  Even then, he went through treatment and cleaned up, only to relapse again.  Here was a man who had been clean and sober for over two decades, had the support of friends and family and the resources to get the best possible drug treatment, yet he could not stay away from heroin.  It is a horribly addicting drug.  So why should we prosecute the fellow junkie who shared the needle?  Isn’t he a victim too?

 

 

More proof that the “War on Drugs” has gone too far

So you are pulled over for a traffic violation, and the police find a small amount of marijuana in your car.

Of course, being forcibly injected with a muscle relaxer, then intubated with a breathing tube and having the police probe your buttocks is just what you expected to happen next.

Oh you didn’t?  What country do you live in?

From RT.com:

Police violated a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights when, in an attempt to find drugs on his person, they temporarily paralyzed him and administered an anal probe, a US federal court has ruled.

Felix Booker and his brother were driving through Oak Ridge, Tennessee in February 2010 when police stopped their vehicle. Smelling marijuana, police brought a K-9 unit to the scene, which alerted them to drugs in the car. Even though police are only authorized to give a ticket when finding less than 14 grams of marijuana, officers arrested Booker after finding .06 grams in his car.
The suspect was booked for felony possession of marijuana and strip-searched at the police station. At that point investigators noticed Booker was “fidgeting” and a doctor threatened to temporarily paralyze him if he did not consent to an anal probe.
Booker, who was handcuffed and naked except for a thin hospital apron, consented but doctors later testified that he still “clenched” during the invasive search. He was injected with a muscle relaxant with a tube forced down his throat to regulate his breathing.
Dr. Michael LaPaglia then found 10.2 grams of crack cocaine hidden in Booker’s rectum. The doctor estimated that Booker had been physically incapacitated for under ten minutes and strapped to a breathing machine for an hour. He was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and sentenced to five years in prison.
The US Court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling Monday, overturned his conviction and said that police could not use the drugs obtained from inside Booker against him because the paralysis, intubation, and anal probe were in clear violation of Booker’s Fourth Amendment rights.
An attorney for the police said LaPaglia, not officers, was responsible for the cavity search. The court, not entirely disagreeing, said police frequently took suspects to LaPaglia when they suspected drugs were in an individual’s rectum and that they “effectively used Dr. LaPaglia as a tool to perform a search on Booker’s person.”
The judges, as quoted by Think Progress, said a medical procedure of this sort does not “immunize the procedures from Fourth Amendment scrutiny” and that such cooperation between police and the doctor “is one of the greatest dignitary intrusions that could flow from a medical procedure.”
In another recent incident of police testing the limit of “reasonable search and seizure,” two Texas state troopers were indicted earlier this year for sexual assault and oppression after they were recorded searching a woman’s anus and vagina when she threw a cigarette out of her car window.

Attorney Explains Medical Marijuana Laws in Illinois

I am sure that many people have questions about Illinois’ new medical marijuana law. Here is a good summary by Miriam Szatrowski of Appelman & Associates.

Illinois Criminal & Civil Defense Blog

CC image Medical Marijuana by Chuck Coker on Flickr

This post was written by Miriam Szatrowski, a criminal defense attorney at Appelman & Associates.  Miriam has a wealth of experience in the criminal and civil courts, and she specializes in DUI, drug, and traffic offenses.  She has also served as an Assistant Public Defender in Kane County.  For more information about Miriam, check out her bio or give her a call at (630) 717-7801.

Last April, I wrote an article explaining the marijuana laws in Illinois. However, last week, Illinois became the 20th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. On Thursday, August 1, Governor Pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act into law. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2014, but many people still have questions about what the law really does and how it will work. I will try to answer some of those questions here.

Who…

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