More commonly referred to as marijuana, weed, or pot, cannabis is a flowering plant that can induce a mind-altering state. This effect is triggered by a psychoactive compound within cannabis known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The possession or use of cannabis in any form for recreational reasons is considered illegal in the state of Illinois and could you leave you facing hefty fines if you’re caught with it.
What Forms of Cannabis Are Illegal in Illinois?
The use of medical marijuana is legal in Illinois. It was legalized in 2013 when the former governor, Pat Quinn, signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. This bill legalized the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana. Under this program, marijuana must be purchased by a qualifying patient or caregiver from a licensed retailer.
In order to be eligible for medical marijuana, a person must have been diagnosed with one of the 41 conditions that have been approved by the state. Illinois has approved those with conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, severe fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, etc. to apply for a medical cannabis card. Patients have to apply for the program online with a doctor’s recommendation. They’ll receive a temporary receipt that they can then take to a dispensary while they wait for their application to be processed.
The state takes medical marijuana usage very seriously and has regulators that track cannabis from the growth stage up until the sale. Only a limited number of licenses are handed out to dispensaries and cultivation factories within the state.
While medical marijuana is legal, using it for recreational purposes is not. It is illegal to be in possession of cannabis leaves or flowers if you’re intending to use them for recreational purposes. Cannabis in all of its forms (such as marijuana, hashish, hash oil, seeds, infusions, the extract of pure THC, etc.) is deemed illegal without a medical cannabis card. You also cannot grow cannabis, as it is illegal in Illinois as well. Only those who are licensed to do so can grow cannabis.
Laws Regarding the Possession of Cannabis
Carrying cannabis on your person, inside your car, or having it in your home is considered to be unlawful. If you are found to be in possession of cannabis, you can wind up facing serious consequences. The severity of your punishment depends on the amount the police find on you. This will determine whether you’ll be charged with a criminal offense or a civil offense.
Chicago’s marijuana laws state that possessing more than 10 grams of cannabis is a crime, which you can be arrested for. Having 10 grams or less is a civil offense and won’t leave you facing jail time, but you will likely have to pay a fine around $100 to $200. It’s also worth noting that if you are in possession of cannabis that has been mixed with another substance, the total amount of the substance will be what determines the level of the violation.
Not only is it illegal for you to be in possession of recreational marijuana, it is also illegal for you to deliver it to another person or to possess it with the intent to deliver. There doesn’t even need to be an exchange of money in order for the police to deem you having the intent to deliver it to someone else. Nor do you have to be found with a large amount of marijuana.
The consequences you face ultimately go back to the amount of marijuana in your possession and whether or not you’ve been caught with marijuana in the past. You will see fines and punishments increase for second, third, or more offenses. This could result in fines costing up to $750.
The police will obviously confiscate any marijuana or paraphernalia they find in your possession upon its discovery. The kinds of paraphernalia they’ll confiscate include anything having to do with growing, harvesting, processing, distributing, measuring, or ingesting marijuana. This includes things such as zipper storage bags, grinders, digital scales, pipes, and bongs.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
In the past, the state of Illinois had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to driving while having THC in your system. The rules on that have since changed, as you are now allowed to drive with five nanogram or less of THC in your bloodstream. That doesn’t mean you are advised to drive after marijuana usage, as it can still impair your driving, leading to accidents and even more trouble for you down the line.
If at any time you are pulled over by the police and they smell marijuana coming from your car, this gives them probable cause to conduct a search. Any illegal items they discover inside the car will be marked as evidence and can be used against you later. Not only that, but if a car was used in a cannabis-related felony, the police have the right to impound it and the car will then go through the forfeiture proceedings to determine if you’ll be able to keep your car.
If you’ve been arrested for a marijuana related crime, contact our offices immediately for legal help!