Council OKs cannabis ordinance

By Alexandria Isom

DeKALB — DeKalb alderpersons approved an ordinance Monday to reduce fine provisions within the municipal code to align the provisions with violation citations in place for possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia.

In July, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2228, which amended the Cannabis Control Act, making “possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis … a civil law violation punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200,” according to the bill. Before the bill’s signing, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana was considered a Class B misdemeanor. People could face up to 180 days in jail as well as a $1,500 fine.

In November, the DeKalb County Board unanimously adopted the establishment of the DeKalb County Possession of Cannabis and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia ordinance, which mirrors the amendments made in SB2228. The ordinance went into effect Jan. 1.

Civil law violations were administered for possession of up to 2.5 grams of cannabis, but the amendment increased the amount to 10 grams.

“City code provides for a fine of $350 if a cannabis or drug paraphernalia citation is paid as a ‘mail-in’ citation within 21 days of issuance and a fine of $750 to $1,000 if paid in court after a plea or finding of guilty,” according to April 10 city council agenda documents. “In accordance with the discussion of the city council, this ordinance reduces the fine to $200 if paid as a mail-in, $300 if paid in court on a first-time violator and $750 to $1,000 for second or subsequent violations.”

The ordinance passed by a vote of 6-1, with First-ward Alderman David Jacobson voting against it.

Jacobson said his issue with the ordinance is creating a non-expungeable or non-removable record of the crime — by keeping it within the city, it is not automatically expunged.

“The state law is mandating the circuit clerks automatically expunge those records twice a year, so then without creating a process internally, we are creating a greater burden on someone receiving a ticket in the city of DeKalb than they would be if they were processed under the state law,” Jacobson said.

Junior English major Kate Fiste said this reduction of fines reflects a progressive national movement.

“I think this ordinance is a reflection of the fact that weed is becoming legal in more and more states,” Fiste said. “Public attitude toward weed is less and less panicky these days, so it makes sense that the fine would be less severe.”

The city council also approved a collective bargaining agreement with the DeKalb International Association of Firefighters on Monday.

After the negotiating process began in February, city officials and the association agreed upon a 3.5 year contract that will begin July 1 and go through December 31, 2020.

The contract will be put in place when the current collective bargaining agreement ends on June 30.

Included in the contract is a salary increase, which is in the city budget’s parameters, according to the agenda documents.

“Wages will increase 1.25 percent effective July 1, 2017, 2.5 percent effective January 1, 2018, 2.5 percent effective January 1, 2019, and 2.5 percent effective January 1, 2020,” according to the agenda documents.

The proposed resolution passed by a vote of 6-1, with Jacobson voting against it.

The next city council meeting will be held 6 p.m. April 24 at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

Alexandria Isom is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at