As of January 1st, 2020, newly enacted marijuana laws have come into effect in the state of Illinois. These new laws have drastically changed the legal landscape in terms of the rights and freedoms afforded to Illinois residents as they pertain to the cultivation, possession, sale, and distribution of cannabis.
Residents of and visitors to the state of Illinois should familiarize themselves with these laws in order to better understand what is expected of them, and what happens when these new regulations are violated.
A Brief Timeline of Illinois’s Marijuana Laws
From the 1930s up until relatively recently, marijuana was simply a prohibited substance. When the Cannabis Control Act was introduced in 1978, it was classified as a misdemeanor and punishable fines, jail time or a combination of both.
The Cannabis Control Act in 1978 Essentially Did Nothing
Essentially, this Act legalized medical marijuana legislatively, but the law required two parties’ participation – the State Department of Human Services and Illinois State Police – in order for the law to fully function as intended. That never happened, so really, prohibition simply continued.
New Legislation for Tightly Regulated Medicinal Marijuana Passed in 2013
In 2013, the state circled back with new legislation that directly addressed the use of medical marijuana in a pilot program that did not require participation from other governing and enforcement agencies. Still, marijuana was only allowed under tightly controlled circumstances.
By 2016, the Majority of Illinoisans Favored Legalization
In a previous article, we talked about the confusion surrounding what was and wasn’t acceptable over the next few years.
Of course, following suit with the rest of the country, the state as a whole has seen a shift in attitudes towards marijuana laws, and in 2016 we finally saw a significant change. (By then nearly two-thirds of the state’s residents were already in favor of legalizing – and taxing – weed.)
Illinois Decriminalized Small Amounts of Marijuana
Nearly four years ago the State of Illinois decriminalized marijuana and made the possession of under 10 grams of cannabis punishable by fines alone instead of a jail sentence.
That said, possession of larger amounts of marijuana still carried severe penalties. However, just a few months ago, a bill was signed into law and as of January 1st, 2020, it has come into effect.
An In-Depth Look at Illinois Marijuana Laws in 2020
The new cannabis regulations are expansive and, although they provide users a lot more freedom with cannabis use, there are still some limitations.
Limitations on Marijuana Possession
Only adults who are aged 21 and over will be able to purchase cannabis. The law does allow for individual cities and municipalities to decide for their own jurisdictions whether or not recreational cannabis can be sold. Here how legal amounts shake out for IL residents:
- 30 grams max (about one ounce) of marijuana flower (dried plant material)
- Edibles must total no more than 500mg of THC
- 5 grams maximum of cannabis concentrate products
Non-residents may only purchase half of any of those amounts.
Additionally, recreational marijuana use is only allowed in private dwellings. Individuals who consume cannabis in public spaces may face criminal charges.
Cultivation is still prohibited unless the user is a registered patient of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act.
Additional Regulations for Medical Marijuana Users
Medicinal cannabis users are allowed to cultivate up to a maximum of five plants without a growing license. There are some limitations:
- Cultivation must take place in a locked and enclosed space
- Seeds may be purchased from a dispensary to grow out home
- Seeds may not be sold or given to others
- Plants may not be in public view or easily accessible to minors under 21
Furthermore, cultivation can only take place on private property or with the consent of the property owner, and a property owner has a right to refuse cultivation.
Only the registered user can tend the plants in most situations, and anyone caught cultivating more than the maximum allowed may face legal consequences.
700,000 Criminal Records Expected to Be Expunged…
…You could be one of them! Individuals previously charged with marijuana possession under 30 grams can move to have their records referred to the Prisoner Review Board. This board can grant pardons.
Upon receiving a pardon, the Illinois attorney general will expunge your record of those charges. Individuals charged with possession over 30 grams may qualify for expungement, as well. An experienced IL criminal defense attorney can offer insight and direction into applying for a pardon and having your records expunged.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.