Illinois has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois. As of January 1, 2020, you can legally possess up to 30 grams cannabis flower. If you are visiting the State of Illinois, you can legally possess half of the amount that residents of Illinois can possess.
Since marijuana possession was legalized in Illinois at the beginning of this year, I have noticed a big increase in the number of people arrested for the illegal possession of cannabis in their motor vehicle. The issue of having marijuana in a vehicle is misunderstood by many people and is leading to the arrest of many people. The other day, I met with a client who was pulled over by a police officer for a speeding violation. When the police officer asked the client if he had anything in his vehicle, the client voluntarily admitted that he had a small amount of cannabis in the ashtray of his vehicle. The client mistakenly believed that since the possession of marijuana is now permitted in Illinois, that he could transport marijuana in his vehicle without any limitations or consequences. After the client admitted that he had marijuana in his vehicle, he was asked to exit his vehicle and was placed under arrest. This is has become a common occurrence in Illinois
Under Illinois Law, you cannot smoke marijuana in any motor vehicle. You cannot smoke marijuana near anyone under the age of 21. Anyone under the age of 21 cannot legally possess any amount of marijuana in Illinois. You can legally transport marijuana in your motor vehicle but it must be out of arm’s reach of the driver and must be completely sealed in its original packaging. The same rule applies to medical marijuana patients who are transporting medical marijuana in their vehicle. If you buy Medical Marijuana at the Medical Marijuana Dispensary, they will put the product in its original packaging in a paper bag and staple it so that you do not have any problems if you are pulled over by the police.
If you are pulled over by the police and charged with having marijuana in your vehicle, you can be arrested and charged with a crime. The severity of the criminal charges will depend on the weight of the cannabis that you are transporting in your vehicle. The smaller the amount, the less serious the criminal charges. The greater the amount of cannabis, the more serious the criminal charges. While the possession of small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in Illinois, the distribution of any amount of marijuana remains illegal in Illinois. If the police and prosecutor believe that you were dealing marijuana, you can be arrested and charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance regardless of the amount marijuana in your vehicle. Earlier this year, I had a client who was pulled over by the police with a small amount of marijuana in his vehicle. Along with the marijuana, the police recovered a small scale, many plastic bags, and a ledger that the client allegedly used to keep track of marijuana sales. While the mere possession of the very small amount of marijuana would most-likely have led to the issuance of a Municipal Ordinance Violation, the client was charged with the Manufacture and Delivery of a Controlled Substance based on the evidence found inside the vehicle.
The bottom line legal advice is that you should not have any amount of marijuana inside your vehicle unless you just purchased it at a dispensary and it is unopened and in its original packaging. If you open the package, or have loose marijuana inside your vehicle, you may be arrested by the police.
James Dimeas, is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, Possession of Marijuana lawyer, with over 28-years of experience handling marijuana cases in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois for the Year 2018, 2019, and 2020” by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney” and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by The National Trial Lawyers.” The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys awarded James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois.” James Dimeas is rated “Superb” by AVVO, the highest rating possible for any marijuana lawyer in the United States. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys recognized James Dimeas as a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas “The Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.”
If you are facing marijuana criminal charges, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.
Illinois Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2017.
Can I Still Be Arrested for Possession of Marijuana in Illinois After it Becomes Legal?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 7, 2019.