Changing Marijuana Laws in Illinois


Throughout the United States, a remarkable change of heart and mind about the use of marijuana is in progress, and Illinois has joined in, albeit with some resistance. There are currently 38 states with some type of medical marijuana program, 16 states that have decriminalized smaller amounts of marijuana possession, and two states that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis.

In 2016, two more states will legalize recreational marijuana, and Illinois is poised to join the 16 other states that have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. As it now stands, however, marijuana possession remains a crime in the state of Illinois (even though the City of Chicago decriminalized marijuana on its own in 2012 and moved to a ticketing system). While the marijuana laws will most likely change in the near future, you still should be aware of the current laws governing possession of cannabis.

Marijuana Laws in Illinois

The laws governing marijuana that are currently on the books in Illinois are somewhat draconian.  If you are arrested with even 2.5 grams of marijuana, you face misdemeanor charges with a potential of 30 days in jail and a fine up to $1500. If you are arrested with 2.5 – 10 grams of marijuana, you still face fines up to $1500 and you could also be sentenced to a jail term of up to six months. A first offense with between 10 and 30 grams of marijuana carries the potential of a year in prison and a $2500 fine, and if it is a subsequent offense, you will be charged with felony possession, which carries the potential of one to six years in jail (with a minimum of one year served) and a fine of $25,000.

These are steep penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, which explains the push for decriminalization. That said, there is still no consensus between the political parties and until they can agree on the amount of the fine and the amount to decriminalize, the laws stand.

State of Decriminalization

A new proposed law would change things dramatically in Illinois. Under a law passed by both houses of the Illinois legislature and sent to the governor for signature, penalties for being caught with small amounts of marijuana (15 grams or less) would be reduced from the punishments described above to a ticket of up to a $125 with no requirement to go to court. Both houses of the Illinois legislature passed the bill this spring. The Governor, however, issued an amendatory veto to the bill this summer. That means he signed it, but raised the fine to $200 and lowered the possession amount to 10 grams. The legislature has rejected the governor’s changes and has decided to let the current bill die, with the intent to redraft it and start anew in the next legislative session.

The Law Offices of David Freidberg Can Help You

Until a decriminalization law is agreed to and passed by the state government, marijuana possession of every amount remains illegal in the state of Illinois (although again, the city of Chicago no longer arrests for small amounts of marijuana).

Every case is different, and if you have been arrested for possession of marijuana in or around the Chicago or DuPage area, it is important to contact an experienced marijuana criminal defense attorney. Contact us today at 312-560-7100 or email us, and let us help you with your marijuana possession case.    

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