Fines for marijuana possession won’t be as high in Woodstock after the City Council approved a measure to reduce the penalty for people caught carrying small amounts of the drug.
People in possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana will face a civil fine from the city of $100 to $200 per violation. Previously, the city issued fines of $500 to $700.
The change to the City Code was approved unanimously at the council’s July 18 meeting.
The lower penalty is in line with the state of Illinois’ fines. Last year, Illinois lawmakers decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana.
“We’re in an era of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, so we are mimicking state statute,” Woodstock Police Chief John Lieb told the council.
Illinois law allows municipalities to impose higher fines than those set by the state.
The city’s $500 minimum fine for possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana remains in place, and the ordinance amendment removed the upper limit — previously set at $750 — on fines for possession of that amount. Lieb said the higher penalty for carrying more than 10 grams of marijuana is intended to target drug dealers.
“We’ve drawn that bright line at 10 grams, because that’s what the state wants to say,” Lieb said following the meeting. “Ten grams is a lot of marijuana. If someone has more than 10 grams, odds are they’re dealing drugs that could affect our population and especially our children. They’re up to no good.”
Except where it would contradict state law, Woodstock Police can continue to issue criminal violations, as opposed to ordinance violations, for marijuana possession.