Marijuana Laws in Illinois
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What are Illinois' Laws on Marijuana Possession?
Although seemingly stringent, Illinois' laws have provisions that enable first time offenders to get off relatively easily. Although the punishments for possessing under 30 grams of Marijuana (a misdemeanor) range from 30 days to a year in jail, a judge can grant a 24-month probation in lieu of jail time, after which the charges will be dismissed. However, after the first offense (or for any possession of more than 30 grams), the penalties swiftly become severe.
Any possession of greater than 30 grams is considered a felony, and is punishable by at least 1 -3 years in prison (for a first offense). Subsequent punishments are by weight and are as follows:
- Second offense of 30 - 500 grams: 2 - 5 years in prison
- Possession of 500 - 2000 grams: 2 - 5 years in prison
- Possession of 2000 - 5000 grams: 3 - 7 years in prison
- Possession of 5000+ grams: 4 - 15 years in prison
In addition, possession of any amount of marijuana over 30 grams will automatically levy a $25,000 fine.
What About Growing Marijuana In My Own Illinois Home?
Growing marijuana is illegal in Illinois (there are no exceptions for medical marijuana, even with a doctor's prescription), and the penalties for marijuana cultivation are judged by the number of plants you are raising. "Plants" here is a somewhat vague term, and it can sometimes include very tiny saplings or even budding seeds, so the number of plants determined is often at the discretion of the judge. Raising less than 5 plants will only be classified as a misdemeanor, but can still get you a year in jail. Raising more than 5 plants is a felony, and such the penalties become harsher.
Cultivating between 5 - 20 plants carries a penalty of 1 - 3 years in prison, while cultivating 20 - 50 plants can bring a sentence of 2 -5 years. Both of these penalties are also subject to a $25,000 fine. However, as with possession, a first time offender of cultivation (of 50 plants or less) can be given a 24 month probation instead of a jail sentence. If the terms of the probation are kept for that period, the conviction will be expunged.
People raising more than 50 plants, however, do not have this probation option, even for their first offense, and will be sentenced to 3 - 7 years with a $100,000 fine.
Can I Bring Marijuana Into Illinois if it is Legally Prescribed to Me?
No. Illinois does not recognize any kind of medical marijuana, and bringing any into the state will be considered drug trafficking. Illinois considers drug trafficking (bringing into the state) the same as the sale or distribution of marijuana, and has very severe penalties:
Sale / Distribution / Trafficking
- 2.5 grams or less: 6 months / $1,500 fine
- 2.5 g - 10 g: 1 year / $2,500 fine
- 10 g - 30 g: 1-3 years / $25,000 fine
- 30 g - 500 g: 2-5 years / $50,000 fine
- 500 g - 2000 g: 3-7 years / $100,000 fine
- 2000 g - 5000 g: 4-15 years / $150,000 fine
- 5000+ g: 6 - 30 years / $200,000 fine
In addition to these punishments, there are several additional factors that can be considered. Any sales or manufacturing done within a school zone is treated much more seriously, with the fine and jail sentences generally doubled. Trafficking more than 2.5 Kilograms of marijuana across state lines or selling to a minor who is more than three years younger than yourself are also aggravating factors that automatically double your sentence.
However, as with possession, first time offenders in Illinois can be offered the same 24 month probation deal mentioned above if they attempt to sell or manufacture less than 30 grams, even if the crime is within a school zone.
Can You Get a DUI For Driving After Smoking Marijuana?
Illinois has a zero tolerance drunk driving law enacted for cannabis, cannabis metabolites, and other controlled substances. This means that if there is ANY amount of illicit drugs or metabolites in your system (metabolites are compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily drugs themselves) while you are driving, you will be arrested for DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs). Violating this law is punishable by up to 12 months in jail upon conviction for a first offense, as well as having your license suspended.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been arrested for any sort of crime involving marijuana in Illinois, it is very important to get a good criminal lawyer right away. If it is your first offense, a good lawyer can very possibly convince a judge to give you probation instead of jail time (probation is by no means automatic in those cases). Having a skilled attorney can be the difference between a slap on the wrist and going to prison for more than five years, so make sure you are well equipped with the knowledge you'll need.
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Last Modified: 11-09-2011 04:42 PM PST
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