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Oswego Decriminalizes Some Local Pot Arrests

Nov 16, 2016 09:52PM ● Published by Steven Jack

In conjunction with changes to the way the state treats marijuana possession, Oswego moved this week to decriminalize possession of 10 grams or less of pot. Village Trustees approved the measure in a unanimous vote Tuesday night. 

In 2016, Illinois' Cannabis Control Act was amended to classify possession of 10 grams and the possession of certain drug paraphernalia as civil violations rather than criminal violations. 

In the past, all cannabis offenses were “arrestable” and violators would be arrested, booked and fingerprinted at the police station. The violator would have a misdemeanor arrest record as a result of the violation. 

Under the new statute, if the amount possessed is less than 10 grams the violator will be issued a civil citation and the cannabis and/or paraphernalia is confiscated. In turn, the village will also be able to collect fines for the civil violations. 

“We would confiscate it – they don’t get to keep their cannabis – and we write them what we call a civil violation,” Oswego Chief Burgner told the Village Board in November.

Violators will be fined $100 for the first offense, $150 for their second offense and $250 for their third offense. Repeat offenders will be fined no more than $750. 

To issue civil violations in the village going forward, the Village has created a new ordinance that will allow these cases to be handled through ordinance violation tickets rather than through the Kendall County court system.

This should save the village staffing costs by requiring officers to appear at fewer court hearings at the Kendall County Courthouse, Burgner said.

“There’s some potential overtime costs (savings),” Burgner previously said. “… Generally, people would pay the fine and then in six months there would be no record of it.” 

Under the state statute, civil violations for possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis are expunged after six months.

Burgner has stressed the village ordinance doesn’t let violators off any easier than the updated state law.

“The PD and I am not recommending taking a soft stance on drug possession or drug use,” he said. “We’re basically mirroring the state statute – we’re not being any less harsh.” 

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