Marijuana possession, sale, and cultivation are regulated by both state and federal law. In Illinois, marijuana is regulated under three laws: the Cannabis Control Act, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, and the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act.
As of January 1, 2020, Illinois legalized marijuana possession in limited circumstances, which can be found in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Illinois has allowed the use of medical marijuana since 2013. Outside these limits, the Cannabis Control Act regulates and penalizes unlawful acts relating to marijuana possession, sale, and cultivation.
This article discusses recreational marijuana possession and sale. Different regulations that apply to medical use of marijuana are not covered here.
While Illinois is one of the states that legalizes certain recreational use of marijuana, legalization is not without limits. Illinois law sets specific parameters for legal possession and use of marijuana. Acting outside the legal limits can result in civil or criminal penalties.
Illinois legalizes possession of marijuana for personal use by adults age 21 and older within the following limits:
The law also requires that possession and use be restricted to certain locations. The law prohibits possession in places such as school grounds or in private vehicles (unless sealed and inaccessible to the driver). And a person cannot use (smoke) marijuana in any public place, in vehicles, on school grounds, or where smoking tobacco is prohibited. Other restrictions can be found in Illinois Statutes, chapter 410, section 705, article 10.
Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal and dangerous.
(410 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 705/10 (2019).)
The following penalties apply to marijuana possession by a person under age 21 (any amount) or adults age 21 and older outside the legalized amounts and limitations.
A person convicted of a felony faces a possible fine of up to $25,000. Repeat convictions may be subject to enhanced penalties and mandatory minimum sentences.
(410 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 705/10; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 550/4; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-50, -5-3 (2019).)
Fake ID. A person younger than 21 who attempts to purchase marijuana using false identification commits a Class A misdemeanor.
Revocation of driving privileges. The use of a fake ID or illegal possession of marijuana by a person younger than 21 can result in suspension or revocation of driving privileges. (410 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 705/10-15, 10-20 (2019).)
Except for authorized cannabis business establishments, delivery or sale of marijuana is unlawful. Transferring marijuana to any person that is contrary to law is also prohibited.
The punishment for the delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, marijuana depends on the amount of the substance involved.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 550/5 (2019).)
Illinois provides enhanced penalties for sales near schools or to minors.
Delivery on school grounds. Any person who delivers or sells marijuana on or near school grounds (while minors might be present) can be convicted of the next higher offense level.
Delivery to a minor. An adult (18 or older) who sells or delivers marijuana to a minor who is at least three years younger faces twice the maximum sentence.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 550/5.2, 7 (2019).)
While Illinois is one of the states to legalize some recreational use of marijuana, restrictions still exist. Penalties for illegal possession or sale of marijuana range from a civil infraction to a felony. If you face charges for a marijuana crime, you should contact an attorney who specializes in drug crimes to understand the charges you face, any possible defenses or options, and the possible outcomes of your case.