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How to Avoid a Marijuana Possession Charge

Now that recreational marijuana use by adults is legal in Illinois, I can’t get arrested for possession, right? Wrong.

Although Illinois has relaxed certain restrictions relating to an adult’s possession and use of recreational marijuana, you can still be arrested and face stiff penalties for violating numerous regulations that are still in place. Illinois House Bill 1438, which Governor Pritzker signed into law effective January 1, 2020, significantly limits how much marijuana you can have, where you can buy it, with whom you can share it, and where you are not legally permitted to smoke it.

For example, although Illinois considers you an adult at age 18 for some purposes, such as signing legally binding agreements, etc., you cannot purchase marijuana in Illinois unless you are at least 21 years old. When you do buy marijuana for recreational use, you can only legally purchase it from a dispensary or a cultivator that has obtained a license from the State of Illinois. Let’s say you wind up attracting law enforcement’s attention and are found to have recreational marijuana in your possession. If you can’t prove you purchased it through a licensed facility, you can be arrested, charged, and likely convicted.

Assuming you can prove that you are over 21 and that you purchased your marijuana from a state-licensed facility, you’re in the clear, right?  Wrong.

First, the maximum amount an Illinois resident can purchase is 30 grams (one ounce) of cannabis plant material, and non-residents can purchase no more than 15 grams (.5 ounces). An adult who legally possesses recreational marijuana is still prohibited from, among other things:

  • Selling it to or sharing it with any person under 21
  • Carrying it onto any school property
  • Smoking or consuming marijuana in open public areas
  • Driving while under the influence of marijuana
  • Transporting and delivering cannabis without a special transportation license

The penalties for violating these provisions can range from a Class A misdemeanor (maximum of one year in prison and a $2,500.00 fine) to a Class 1 felony (between 4- and 15-year prison term and up to $25,000.00 fine). The following are the charges and penalties for marijuana possession based on the amount:

30 to 100 grams

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Maximum of one year in prison
  • Up to a $2,500 fine

100 to 500 grams

  • Class 4 felony
  • One to three years in prison
  • Up to a $25,000 fine

500 to 2,000 grams

  • Class 3 felony
  • Two to five years in prison
  • Up to a $25,000 fine

2,000 to 5,000 grams

  • Class 2 felony
  • Three to seven years in prison
  • Up to a $25,000 fine

More than 5,000 grams

  • Class 1 felony
  • Four to 15 years in prison
  • Up to a $25,000 fine

Penalties become even stiffer if the prosecutor can prove that you intended to sell some or all of the marijuana in your possession. Moreover, you can also be charged and convicted for selling marijuana paraphernalia without a license, even if you do not sell or distribute marijuana with the device. Most importantly, even if you are convicted of what you consider to be one of the “lesser offenses” identified above, you will still have a criminal record, which, in turn, could adversely affect your ability to obtain employment, to qualify for certain insurance benefits, or to buy or lease a residence.

Finally, although Illinois law recognizes marijuana may be effective in treating or lessening the effect of certain injuries or ailments, obtaining a “medical marijuana” card does not automatically make you exempt from all Illinois laws pertaining to marijuana possession and use. Under Illinois’ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, the patient must register with the State and must submit competent evidence of a “debilitating condition,” the definition of which includes, among other diseases and ailments, the following:

  • Autism
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Residual limb pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of Epilepsy)
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Ulcerative colitis

If you cannot prove that you suffer from one of the conditions set forth above or listed in the cited statute or if the State revokes your authorization under the Program, your right to possess marijuana reverts to your original status before you received your card.

Contact Us

Our Champaign marijuana possession attorneys dedicate our personalized and undivided attention to every single detail of the cases we take on. At Bruno Law Offices, we know the details can spell the difference between an acquittal and a conviction for our clients. We’re ready to take your call and meet you for a free initial consultation. Call us today at (217) 328-6000 or contact us online to learn more.

 

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