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RI considers fine instead of jail for some marijuana busts

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Instead of automatic arrests and being booked into jail, the city of Rock Island could hand out a minimum $300 fine to people who get caught using marijuana.

The minimum $300 fine is on the council's agenda for their meeting Monday, March 24, 2014. The fine would be given out to first-time offenders possessing between 2.5 and 10 grams of marijuana.

It's the same fine as Illinois state law, according to Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley.

Pauley also says the change could free up the circuit courts in Illinois, so they can deal with other cases.

Rock Island would make more revenue off the $300 fine, but Pauley says they're not making the fine to generate revenue. He also says the fine would only be levied once, so a person cited would not owe fines to the city and to the state for the same offense.

"We're doing this to make it easier for the customer out there," Pauley said. "If they do get caught doing something illegal, which they shouldn't be doing, it enables them to have a ticket instead of being arrested."

Galesburg aldermen tried to pass a similar ordinance in 2012.

Also Monday night, city leaders could approve a plan to demolish the Watchtower Plaza building to make way for a new Wal-Mart. Monday's meeting starts at 6:45 p.m. at Rock Island's City Hall.