Marijuana Laws and Penalties in Illinois

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 Is Possession of Marijuana Illegal?

The Federal Government has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Being in this category means that a substance is highly addictive and does not have any accepted medical issues.

Because of this, federal law provides that all of the following involving marijuana are illegal:

It is important to note that the perception of marijuana in the United States is changing dramatically over time. Many states are passing increasingly liberal laws governing marijuana.

What about Marijuana Possession Prosecution?

Marijuana possession is the knowing and deliberate possession of an illegal controlled substance. Possession may be either actual or constructive.

Actual possession occurs when drugs are found on an individual’s person, for example, in their pockets or in their hands. Constructive possession occurs when drugs are not on an individual’s person but they are so close by that possession may be imputed, for example, in their vehicle.

In order for the government to prove constructive possession, it must prove the defendant knew the drugs were present and had control over them. The enforcement of marijuana possession laws will vary based on a serious of factors, including:

  • Whether a defendant is facing state or federal charges;
  • The amount of marijuana they possessed,
  • Whether they are a repeat offender; and
  • Whether there is evidence they were selling or distributing marijuana.

Depending on the circumstance of a defendant’s case, they may face different penalties. Some charges will involve only a fine.

Other charges may involve a significant jail sentence or a mandatory minimum sentence.

What Are Marijuana Possession Laws by Jurisdiction?

The criminal laws that govern marijuana possession vary by jurisdiction. As previously noted, federal laws prohibit any marijuana possession.

In addition, federal laws preempt all state laws. This means that an individual can be charged with federal marijuana crimes even if their state permits certain types of marijuana use and possession.

What Are Illinois’ Laws on Marijuana Possession?

As of January 1, 2020, several actions involving marijuana are legal, including:

  • Recreational consumption;
  • Possession; and
  • Sale of cannabis products.

If an individual is a resident of Illinois who is 21 years or older, they can possess:

  • Up to 30 grams of marijuana;
  • Up to 500 mg of THC in marijuana-infused products; or
  • Up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate.

Individuals who are not from the state may possess half the amount that a resident can possess.

What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Possession?

Marijuana possession laws and related laws in Illinois have been updated due to the changes discussed above related to marijuana possession. In many cases, a first-time offender will get off relatively easy.

However, multiple offenses may result in severe punishments. The penalties for the various marijuana related offenses in Illinois are as follows:

For possession of marijuana based on the amount, a defendant who is an Illinois resident may face:

  • 30g or less: No penalty and no fines;
  • For more than 30g-100g:
    • First offense: A misdemeanor charge, 1 year in jail and $2,500 fines;
    • Subsequent offense: A felony charge, 1-3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine;
  • More than 100g-500g: A felony charge, 1-3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine;
  • More than 500g-2000g: A felony charge, 2-5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine;
  • More than 2000g-5000g: A felony charge, 3-7 years in prison and a $25,000 fine; and
  • More than 5000g: A felony charge, 4-15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

It is important to note that if an individual brings marijuana into Illinois illegally for their own use or to share with others, they may face possession charges or selling or trafficking charges.

How Much Weed is Legal in Illinois?

As noted above, an Illinois resident over the age of 21 may legally possess:

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower;
  • 500 mg of THC in a cannabis-infused product; and
  • 5 grams of a cannabis concentrate.

What Are Illinois’ Regulations of Growing Marijuana in My Private Home?

If an individual has a medical marijuana card, there are no legal penalties for an individual who grows up to 5 plants of their own. The individual who is growing the plants must be 21 years of age or older.

The plants must be in a locked room without any access to any individual under 21 years of age. The plants must be outside of public view and the owner must provide permission for the pants to be there.

It is, however, a violation of Illinois laws to grow plants for recreational use. If an individual does not have a medical marijuana card, up to 5 plants only results in a fine of up to $200.

However, the more plants an individual grows, the steeper the pantiles they may face. If an individual has between 5 and 20 plants, they may serve up to 3 years in prison for a felony and be required to pay up to $25,000.

If an individual has between 20 and 50 plants, they may face a 5 year prison sentence. 50 to 100 plants may cause an individual to face up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

If an individual has between 50 and 200 plants, the penalty is increased to 7 years. If an individual has over 200 plants, they may face incarceration of up to 15 years.

What Are the Medical Marijuana Laws in Illinois?

In August of 2013, the State of Illinois legalized medical marijuana. This act was subsequently amended in 2015 and 2016 to allow qualifying children under the age of 18 to use medical marijuana.

In order for an individual to legally use and purchase marijuana for medical reasons, they are required to fill out and submit a form to the State of Illinois. They must also have approval from a licensed physician and have a qualifying illness, including, but not limited to:

  • ALS;
  • Cancer;
  • Crohn’s Disease;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Hepatitis C;
  • Lupus;
  • Multiple Sclerosis;
  • PTSD; or
  • Many other chronic illnesses.

Residents of Illinois who are 21 years of age or older may purchase marijuana from a licensed seller with or without a medical marijuana card as of January 1, 2020. An individual will be required to show a valid government-issued photo ID that shows their date of birth.

Individuals who are not United States citizens or who are immigrants are not permitted to use, buy, or possess any amount of marijuana.

Can You Get a DUI for Driving after Smoking Marijuana?

The State of Illinois has a zero tolerance drunk driving law that applies to:

  • Cannabis;
  • Cannabis metabolites; and
  • Other controlled substances.

This means that if an individual has any amount of illicit drugs in their system while they are driving, they may be arrested for DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs). Violating Illinois drunk driving laws may be punishable by up to 12 months in jail upon conviction for a first offense, as well as having a driver’s license suspended.

What Happens if a Minor Gets Caught with Weed in Illinois?

Minors in Illinois who are under the age of 21 are prohibited from possessing or using marijuana, except for those who are authorized to use medical marijuana. In the State of Illinois, possession of marijuana by a minor is no longer considered a criminal offense.

It is not treated as a civil law violation that may be punished by a fine of $100-$200. If the minor is found to be in possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle, their driver’s license can be suspended or revoked.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Marijuana Offense in Illinois?

If you are facing charges for any crime in Illinois that involves marijuana, it is in your best interests to consult with an Illinois drug crime lawyer as soon as possible.

Your lawyer can advise you of the current laws as well as the procedural aspects of criminal prosecution. A conviction may affect much more than your criminal record, so it is important to ensure that your rights are protected.

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