8 states (and Washington, D.C.) have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. 19 others have legalized the use of marijuana for limited medicinal purposes. It is currently illegal to possess, grow, or sell marijuana for recreational use in Illinois. However, lawmakers are currently pushing legislation that could make Illinois the 9th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Current Illinois Marijuana Laws
Illinois has relatively relaxed marijuana-related laws on the books. In fact, the penalties associated with possession of small amounts of marijuana was recently reduced from a misdemeanor to a civil violation. This legislative action indicates that Illinois is interesting in taking a step back from prosecuting minor marijuana-related crimes. Marijuana-related offenses can be found in the Illinois “Cannabis Control Act.”
Marijuana Possession Laws
Possession of marijuana is punishable as a civil violation, misdemeanor, or felony offense. The severity of the crime depends on (1) the amount of marijuana involved and (2) if the crime is a first or subsequent offense. Possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less is a civil violation, punishable by a fine.
- Possession of between 10-30 grams of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Possession of more than 30 grams is a Class 4, Class 3, Class 2, or Class 1 felony offense. If convicted, you may face between 1-30 years in prison and be required to pay up to $25,000 in fines. The length of the sentence will depend on the amount in your possession.
Subsequent offenses will result in a more severe penalty.
Marijuana Trafficking Laws
It is currently illegal to sell marijuana in Illinois. Only registered dispensaries my distribute medicinal marijuana to registered patients. If you are convicted for the sale or trafficking of marijuana in Illinois you may face between 1-60 years in prison and be required to pay fines of up to $25,000. The severity of the crime will depend on the amount of marijuana that is sold or trafficked. It is a Misdemeanor to sell 10 grams or less of marijuana. It is a felony offense to sell more than 10 grams of marijuana. Penalties for felony marijuana trafficking include:
- 1-6 years in prison for the sale of 10-30 grams of marijuana;
- 2-10 years in prison for the sale of 30-500 grams of marijuana;
- 3-14 years in prison for the sale of 500-2,000 grams of marijuana;
- 4-30 years in prison for the sale of 2,000-5,000 grams of marijuana; and
- 6-60 years in prison for the sale of more than 2,000 grams of marijuana.
Special circumstances, such as selling marijuana on school property, may aggravate a penalty.
Marijuana Cultivation Laws
It is illegal to grow marijuana plants in Illinois. Growing 5 or fewer marijuana plants in Illinois is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail. The sale of a significant number of plants is often seen as an indication of intent to sell or distribute. As a result, a conviction for growing more than 5 marijuana plants is a felony offense. The severity of the penalty will depend on the number of plants you grow.
- Growing between 5-20 plants is punishable by 1-6 years in prison;
- Growing between 20-50 plants is punishable by 2-10 years in prison;
- Growing between 50-200 plants is punishable by 3-14 years in prison; and
- Growing more than 200 plants is punishable by 4-30 years in prison.
Fines for growing more than 200 marijuana plants could also result in a fine of up to $100,000.
Illinois Medical Marijuana Law
In 2013, Illinois became one of a growing number of states to legalize medicinal marijuana. The Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Pilot Program allows individuals who are diagnosed with a limited number of debilitating conditions and/or terminal illnesses to apply for a medical cannabis registry card. Patients who are awarded a medical cannabis card are then allowed to purchase marijuana from specified state-approved dispensaries. Debilitating conditions that may qualify an individual to apply for a medical marijuana card include Alzheimer’s, Cancer, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Epilepsy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Severe Fibromyalgia. An exhaustive list of conditions can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.
Overview of the Proposed Legalization of Marijuana in Illinois
In March 2017, state lawmakers proposed amendments to the Cannabis Control Act. These amendments, which are currently before the House and Senate, would legalize the use, possession, sale, and growth of limited amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes. Under the new law, marijuana would be regulated and taxed like alcohol.
Under the new law, Illinois residents over the age of 21 would be permitted to purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana for personal use. (Nonresidents would also be able to purchase recreational marijuana, but the amount would be limited to 14 grams.) Retailers would be required to be licensed by and registered with the state. As with alcohol, the sale of marijuana to individuals under the age of 21 would be illegal.
Until the amendments to the Cannabis Control Act are finalized it is still a criminal offense to possess any marijuana for recreational purposes. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a drug crime you should not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Kostopoulos Law Group.
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