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Government - Local

Oswego votes to make having 10 grams of marijuana or less a local civil offense

Oswego Village Board members voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a new Civil Cannabis and Drug Paraphernalia Ordinance, which would reduce local penalties for marijuana and paraphernalia possession in the village.

The idea to create a new ordinance was proposed at a November board meeting in an attempt to better align the village’s laws with the new Illinois state statutes following amendments made to the state’s Cannabis Control Act in July 2016.

Prior to the amendment, the possession and sale of any amount of marijuana had been labeled as a criminal offense in Oswego and throughout the state of Illinois. Each charge was “arrestable,” leading suspects to be arrested, booked and fingerprinted at the police station. The possession charge would also end up on one’s criminal record as a misdemeanor violation.

Now, marijuana possession of no more than 10 grams and the possession of certain paraphernalia for marijuana use has been decriminalized at a state level. 

Under the new statute, if the amount possessed is no more than 10 grams, the violator is now issued a “civil violation” citation and the marijuana and/or paraphernalia is confiscated. The violators are dealt with on a city or village level, as opposed to heading to the county courthouse. The records are also expunged in a shorter period of time than in the past.

At a Nov. 15 meeting, the board gave Police Chief Jeff Burgner permission to move forward with drafting a village ordinance that would better align itself with what’s happening on a state level. On Tuesday, board members unanimously approved that ordinance. Now, the possession of not more than 10 grams and certain drug paraphernalia possession is considered a local civil offense. Under the new ordinance, an ordinance violation ticket is issued instead of an arrest being made. 

The state statute allows home-rule communities to adopt this ordinance and collect the fines levied.

“I don’t want us to take this as a soft side of drug prevention,” Burgner told the board during his initial proposal. “We’re not taking a stop stance on drug prevention or use.”

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