Illinois is set to legalize the sale of marijuana to adults age 21 and over effective January 1, 2020. The new laws on marijuana possession, public usage, and growing will also take effect on that date, presuming that Governor J.B. Pritzker keeps his promise to sign the landmark measure already passed by the Illinois House and Senate. For the remainder of 2019, however, the current laws remain on the books, so you could still be arrested and prosecuted for marijuana possession. However, simple possession of no more than 30 grams is unlikely to result in criminal charges.
How Much Marijuana Can I Legally Possess in 2019 in Illinois?
For 2019, Illinois state law (720 ILCS 550/4) declares that “It is unlawful for any person knowingly to possess cannabis.” However, the punishment for marijuana possession varies depending on the amount you are caught with:
- 10 grams or less of any substance containing cannabis is only a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 to $200. This offense will not go on your criminal record.
- 10.1 to 30 grams is a Class B misdemeanor.
- 30.1 to 100 grams is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a subsequent offense*.
- 100.1 to 500 grams is a Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for a subsequent offense*.
- 500.1 to 2,000 grams is a Class 3 felony.
- 2,000.1 to 5,000 grams in a Class 2 felony.
- More than 5,000 grams is a Class 1 felony.
* Your crime will be considered a subsequent offense if you have a prior conviction for any type of marijuana or drug crime anywhere in the U.S.
Will Police and Prosecutors Actually Enforce Illinois Marijuana Laws in 2019?
Starting in 2020, Illinois residents may legally possess 30 grams of cannabis flower (plant material), 5 grams of cannabis concentrate (oil), and up to 500 milligrams of THC in the form of edibles. The police and prosecutors in every city and county in Illinois are already discussing how strictly they will enforce these quantities of marijuana in 2019.
Some police chiefs and sheriffs say they will continue enforcing the current laws right through the end of 2019, expressing concern about drug DUIs and crimes of violence stemming from illegal dealing.
Others say that they have already stopped prosecuting possession of up to 30 grams of weed, since that will not be a crime effective January 1 and the new law will effectively pardon all prior possession offenses of up to 30 grams.
In Joliet, you can expect to be charged only with a city ordinance violation and pay a $150 fine for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana; this will not go on your criminal record. McHenry County also says they only issue fines for most low-level marijuana possession offenses.
In DuPage County, they no longer consider it a “wise use of our resources” to prosecute most misdemeanor marjijuana possession cases. Cook County has stopped prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana offenses and referring Class 4 felony possession cases to treatment rather than prison.
Thus, your chances of facing criminal charges for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana seem very small for the rest of 2019.
However, you should still be careful, particularly on school grounds or within 500 feet of school grounds when anyone under age 18 is around. In these circumstances, possession with intent to deliver involving more than 2.5 grams of marijuana is a felony crime that will likely be prosecuted. In other locations, possession with intent to deliver involving more than 10 grams is a felony.
Remember, too, that driving while high in Illinois will get you charged with DUI, a charge that can never be expunged from your criminal record.
A Will County Marijuana Possession Defense Attorney
Remember: Unless you have a medical marijuana card, marijuana possession is still illegal in Illinois and most other states. If you have been charged with drug possession, manufacturing, distribution, or trafficking, call an experienced Joliet marijuana possession defense lawyer. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba has practiced criminal law in the Will County courts for more than a decade and will provide the aggressive defense you need. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.