The city of Evanston has taken it upon themselves to reduce penalties for people caught in possession of marijuana. While state law says you could serve up to 6 months in jail for the offense, Evanston city officials would rather ticket you than tax the already overburdened criminal justice system.
The city council voted unanimously on Monday night to ease penalties. If you are caught with 10 grams or less you will be ticketed and no longer face jail time. The fine for possession will be between $50 and $500.
The city decided to make the change for two reasons, according to WBEZ 91.5. The first is to lessen the burden on the local court system. The second is to save people from having such a criminal offense on their record, potentially impacting their ability to gain worthwhile employment.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl says she heard a story on NPR about a seminal ordinance in Ann Arbor, Michigan, planting the idea in her head.
According to NORML (National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws), 14 states and 50 cities across the country have adopted similar laws, opting for a less severe punishment when it comes to possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Overall, the attitude towards marijuana decriminalization and even legalization has changed in the last several years. Support for such measures has grown significantly as citizens realize the true costs of marijuana laws.
Evanston is a college town and these communities seem to support decriminalizing marijuana more than other cities. But the vice president for university relations at Evanston’s Northwestern University campus says he doesn’t think the new law will impact students. “At least to my knowledge there has not been a real problem or concern in terms of Northwestern students being arrested for possession of marijuana,” he said.
A criminal conviction, even for marijuana possession, can come back to haunt you for years to come. While some prospective employers are understanding and can overlook blemishes like this, others won’t let your foot in the door when they realize you have a criminal record. It’s even worse if the crime on your record is a more serious felony.
Not everywhere in Indiana is as liberal as Evanston in this regard. As stated, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense under state law. If you have anything less than 30 grams, you could be spending some time in jail. More than 30 grams and you’re facing a felony offense.
If you are accused of a marijuana crime, whether it’s possession or possession with intent to distribute, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your options.