First-time marijuana possession offenders in Galesburg, Illinois, could receive a only citation, instead of an arrest, under an new ordinance passed by the city council this week.
The new ordinance allows police the option of issuing a ticket, rather than placing an offender under arrest, if they are caught with under 2.5 grams of marijuana.
The ticket is a $300 fine, which will help Galesburg save money on court costs in processing offenders. Last year, the city processed 68 marijuana-possession arrests, and each one cost about $1,100 to process through the court system.
Galesburg Police Chief Dave Christiansen said, “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.”
Galesburg’s mayor said the move was more to help reduce an overburdened court system than an attempt to generate revenue.
The new ordinance doesn’t completely decriminalize marijuana in Galesburg. Police still have the old option of arresting and charging offenders.
“They still have the option to use the state charge if that’s appropriate for repeat offenders,” stated Chief Christiansen.