Illinois Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

MarijuanaIn July of 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation into law which makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil matter and not a criminal matter.  This new law made Illinois the 17th state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.  This means that if you are caught with the possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less, you will be issued a ticket charging you with a civil offense which carries a fine of up to $200.  However, individual towns are allowed to add additional penalties to the tickets, such as drug treatment or classes.  The new law also makes two more changes to Illinois law.  First, anyone charged under this new law will have the case expunged from their record automatically 6 months after the offense occurs. Expungements for these citations will happen automatically twice a year, January 1 and July 1.  This was added to the statute to make sure that such a case would not limit the ability of people, especially young people, to be able to obtain a job. The second change has to do with DUI’s. Under the old law, Illinois had a “no tolerance” policy when it came to driving a motor vehicle with the presence of any trace of marijuana in their blood system. Under the old law, if you had ingested marijuana a few weeks ago and were driving a motor vehicle, you could be charged with a DUI even if there were no signs of impairment.  Under the new law you cannot be charged with a DUI unless you have 5 nanograms of THC (the active ingredient of marijuana) in your blood, or 10 nanograms or more in your saliva.

This new law is pretty similar to a measure enacted in Chicago in 2012.  This measure allows police officers to issue tickets for possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana that carries fines of $250 to $500. The new law would not change what is happening in Chicago but would apply to any towns in Illinois that have no such measure so that there’s some uniformity in Illinois.

Similar legislation was passed in 2015.  But when it reached Rauner’s desk, he vetoed the legislation because he believed that it allowed for the possession of too much marijuana and the fines were too low. The legislature amended the legislation to satisfy Governor Rauner’s objections and he signed the bill into law. This measure went into immediate effect in Illinois.

The possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is still a crime in Illinois.  Under previous law, possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana was a Class B misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and a fine up to $1,500.  Possession of less than 10 grams is now covered by the new law which makes it a civil offense.  If you are caught with more than 10 grams but less than 30 grams of marijuana, you could be facing a Class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.  A second such conviction is a Class 4 Felony.  If you are caught with more than 30 grams of marijuana but less than 500 grams, you could be facing a Class 4 felony which carries a maximum penalty of 1 to 3 years in prison with probation a possibility.  If you are caught with more than 500 grams of marijuana but less than 2000 grams, you could be facing a Class 3 felony which carries a maximum penalty of 2 to 5 years in prison with probation a possibility.  If you are caught with more than 2000 grams of marijuana but less than 5000 grams, you could be facing a Class 2 felony which carries a maximum penalty of 3 to 7 years in prison with probation a possibility.  If you are caught with more than 5000 grams of marijuana you could be facing a Class 1 felony which carries a maximum penalty of 4 to 15 years in prison with probation a possibility.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, Possession of Marijuana lawyer. James Dimeas has been handling Possession of Cannabis cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County for over 25 years. James Dimeas has been recognized as a “Best DUI Attorney.” Expertise has named James Dimeas a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago.” The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys have named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” The National Trial Lawyers have named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” AVVO rates James Dimeas as “Superb”, the highest rating possible for any lawyer in the United States.

If you are being charged with Possession of Marijuana, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas directly by calling him at 847-807-7405 for a personal consultation.

Additional Resources:

Illinois Cannabis Control Act, 720 ILCS 550/4.

Additional Blogs:

Medical Marijuana Patients Beware: You May Have a Bulls Eye on Your Car, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 2, 2017.  

What Could Happen if I am Arrested and Charged with Possession of Marijuana in Illinois?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, August 1, 2017.