Oswego, IL has officially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. It is now a civil offense, rather than a crime, to be caught with 10 ounces or less of marijuana in the city. Police were instructed to issue ordinance tickets and fines in these instances and to confiscate any marijuana or related drug paraphernalia, which is also no longer a crime to own under these new rules.
Oswego Chief of Police Jeff Burgner stressed to the Chicago Tribune that this does not mean that the police force is "softening" to the idea of marijuana or drug possession. This development only shows that it is in line with the state's statute that deems marijuana legal for uses other than medicinal ones.
Fines will range from $100 for the first offense to $150 and $250 for second and third offenses, respectively. A maximum fine of $750 will be imposed upon those who are found to be repeat offenders. This follows in Yorkville's steps, seeing as how they passed a comparable ordinance back in October. The fines there are a little different, however. First offenders will have to pay between $100 and $300, and second offenders will have to pay $200 to $600. Repeat offenders will be charged $300 up to the same $750 maximum set by Oswego.
Previously, those guilty of marijuana offenses were arrested, booked, and fingerprinted, and they were issued tougher fines. Additionally, the violator would have had a class B misdemeanor arrest on his record.
An additional change, per Burgner, is the amount of time in which a person's record is expunged from police records. Burgner did not note the specific amount of time but said that the records are now expunged in a shorter amount of time than they were in the past. Burgner said that while officers used to have to go to court over these matters, now they can handle them themselves while on the job.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in over half the country, with California recently legalizing marijuana usage for recreational purposes on Election Day. Advocates for the legalization of marijuana were particularly enthused about this development, as it is expected that the legal sales of marijuana will have a significant impact on California's economy, as well as the economy of the country as a whole, due to the fact that it is one of the largest states in the nation.
While some states are relaxing their laws insofar as marijuana possession, it is important to keep in mind that not enough research has yet been done on the long-term effects of marijuana usage to determine whether or not it will be significantly dangerous in the long term. Similarly, there is also not enough evidence yet to determine by just what point someone is officially intoxicated when high on marijuana. This makes it difficult to determine at what levels of THC in someone's blood make it safe for them to drive.