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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 of marijuana, 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
  • 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.


Student receives reduced charges and probation after pleading guilty

A student from the University of Illinois was sentenced after pleading guilty to the Class 3 felony of one count of possession of cannabis with intent to deliver between 30-500 grams, according to the News-Gazette on May 27.

For pleading guilty, the student received a reprieve on more serious charges brought against her, including the intent to deliver LSD and ecstasy. In addition to being expelled from school, she received two years of probation, four months of electronic home detention, 100 hours of community service, and a hefty fine of $15,600.

Two other students were charged with similar crimes; all three had been under covert investigation for about a year.

The attorneys at Bruno Law Offices help those who have been charged with drug crimes in the Champaign area achieve the best possible results from their case. If your future is at risk because of charges brought against you, enlist the help of our legal team by calling 217-328-6000 today.

Hoopeston man arrested for cannabis possession

Thirty-four-year-old Hoopeston, Illinois resident Kareem Marshall is currently detained at the Champaign County Jail with a $10,000 bond after being arrested for charges of felony unlawful possession with intent to deliver cannabis, The News-Gazette reported on December 31.

A police report showed that Marshall, holding a duffel bag, asked the clerk on duty at the front desk of a Residence Inn located at 502 W. Marketview Drive C for a key to a room under his girlfriend’s name. The clerk called the police after becoming suspicious of a marijuana smell in Marshall’s presence. The police knocked on the door of Marshall and his girlfriend’s room, but they were not answered.

Police arrested Marshall behind the motel building, where they found him crouched behind an electrical box with the duffel bag on the ground.

A leafy substance inside the duffel bags tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, a substance found in the cannabis plant, the police report showed. The three bags weighed 502.5 grams, 138.2 grams, and 14.3 grams, respectively.

The attorneys at Bruno Law Offices are well-known and respected in the field of criminal defense in the Champaign-Urbana areas in Illinois. If you are facing criminal charges, it is critical to the success of your case to immediately enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney, who will work on behalf of your rights and interests. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 for an initial consultation with our legal professionals today.

Marijuana found in one of Justin Beiber’s tour buses

Prior to Canadian teen singer Justin Bieber’s performance at the Joe Louis Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, June 28, police authorities confiscated a sufficient amount of marijuana for personal use from one of his tour buses.

According to an e-mail sent by U.S. Customs and Border Protection chief public liaisons officer Kenneth Hammond to reporters on Monday, July 29, they were alerted by a report that Bieber’s bus was attempting to go into Canada through the Ambassador Bridge. The authorities’ raided Bieber’s bus, after trained dogs alerted them to the possible presence of marijuana. A small amount of marijuana intended for personal consumption and drug paraphernalia was found.

Our attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices can provide anyone in Champaign charged with a drug crime with the skilled and competent legal representation necessary to protect their freedoms. Contact our office today at 217-328-6000 to schedule your initial consultation with us.

Medical condition saves drug cartel member from prison sentence

A 25-year-old Saybrook resident, who was a defendant in a McLean County drug trafficking case, was kept from getting almost a decade in prison due to a serious medical affliction that he has had since childhood.

Dustin Pulliam, who was involved in a massive marijuana shipment operation from California to multiple sources in McLean County, was given 36 months of probation instead of jail time through the Illinois Department of Corrections due to medical evidence showing that he has been suffering from cystic fibrosis since he was four months old.

Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary respiratory and digestive disease that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas.

Pulliam pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge in December 2012, leading to the arrest of 23-year-old Nathaniel Nowlin (sentenced to 14 years) in California, 23-year-old Wesley Harvey of Ellsworth (sentenced to 9 years), Nowlin’s 66-year-old grandmother Michelle Donnell, and Nowlin’s brother Tylor, 22.

If you have been charged with drug crimes, whether similar to those that the defendants in this case faced or a different criminal charge, you deserve to defend your rights in court. And, with the help of our lawyers at Bruno Law Offices, you can present a strong defense for yourself. Call 217-328-6000 to discuss how we might be able to help.

Urbana man sentenced to 12 years in prison for drug possession

Ricardo Hite, 57, of Urbana was sentenced to 12 years in prison for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

This is the latest in a series of drug-related offenses that Hite has been charged with. He was sent to prison for two prior drug cases.

Hite pleaded guilty to this recent offense in September, and police issued a search warrant of his home at the 1400 block of West Beardsley Avenue due to information obtained about recent drug buys.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the Champaign or Urbana areas, contact Champaign criminal defense lawyers at Bruno Law Offices today at 217-328-6000.

The various penalties for marijuana possession in Illinois

Under almost any circumstance, possession of marijuana is illegal in Illinois. For people convicted of marijuana possession, they face legal penalties that range depending on the amount of illegal substance in possession.

For instance, a person who is in possession of marijuana that weighs less than 2.5 grams could receive a Class C misdemeanor and face up to 30 days in jail and fines  up to $2500, according to the Illinois criminal penalty code.

If you have been charged with marijuana possession, contact the Champaign-Urbana marijuana possession defense attorneys of Bruno Law Offices at 217-328-6000.

Bruno Law Offices
301 W Green St
Urbana, IL 61801
Tel: (217) 328-6000
Fax: (217) 328-6765

Contact Us Today