The Crystal Lake City Council on Tuesday night is expected to re-examine an amendment proposal enabling police officers to issue tickets to offenders caught with small amounts of marijuana.
The council will review the issue tonight at its regularly scheduled meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Crystal Lake Municipal Complex, 100 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake.
Many Illinois communities in recent years have amended local codes to give officers the option of issuing tickets carrying hefty fines in lieu of making an arrest, Crystal Lake Police Chief David Linder said in August.
Arrests for small amounts of cannabis possession can be a lengthy process requiring officers to transport subjects to the station for finger printing and processing. A crime that can be relatively minor can take several hours to process, Linder said.
Ticketing allows police officers more time patrolling the streets where they are needed, officials said.
In August, city leaders were scheduled to vote on the amendment, but Mayor Aaron Shepley opposed the code change as written. The original amendment would have permitted police officers to issue a ticket to offenders in possession of less than 30 grams of the drug.
Shepley stated at the August 7 council meeting that 30 grams seemed too liberal of an amount. Shepley and other council members asked Crystal Lake Chief Linder to further investigate the laws used by other communities.
Linder has since compiled a lengthy report containing ordinance standards used by several area communities. The standards varied considerably with some municipalities setting maximum possession at 2.5 grams, 20 grams and 30 grams of marijuana, city documents show.
Currently under Illinois law, possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis is a misdemeanor offense and possession of more than 30 grams of the drug is considered a felony. In 2011, Crystal Lake Police made more than 50 arrests for misdemeanor cannabis possession offenses, Linder reported.
Possession of cannabis tickets would carry fines of $500 to $1,000. The process would be similar to the city's new synthetic drug possession fines.
Patroling officers would always have the option of issuing a ticket, or making an arrest for individuals found in possession of marijuana. Those with more than 30 grams would automatically be arrested.
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