GALESBURG, IL — First time marijuana possession offenders in the Illinois city of Galesburg could receive a citation instead of an arrest under an ordinance passed by the city council Monday night.
The ordinance gives police the option of issuing a ticket instead of placing an offender under arrest if they are caught with less than 2.5 grams of marijuana.
The violation is a $300 fine, which should help save the city some court costs in processing offenders, in addition to giving those busted a second chance.
Last year, the city processed 68 marijuana possession arrests, with each one costing about $1,100 to process through the courts.
“It gives us a tool makes the process a little simpler. It results in a ticket versus an arrest and a booking and an appearance in state court,” said Galesburg Police Chief Dave Christiansen.
The city’s mayor said the move was more to help reduce an overburdened court system than in an attempt to generate revenue for the city.
“If we get some revenue from it that’s great, but I think its about empowering our law enforcement people to have more methods when dealing with offenders,” explained Mayor John Pritchard.
The ordinance does not completely decriminalize marijuana in the city. Police still have the option of arresting and charging an offender.
“They still have the option to use the state charge if that’s appropriate for repeat offenders if there’s other charges involved,” said Chief Christiansen.