Even though many U.S. states have already legalized marijuana for recreational use, that is not the case in Illinois at this point. Outside of narrow exceptions, Illinois still prohibits the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana. Moreover, there are specific Illinois laws against and penalties for growing marijuana plants.
Illinois Laws Against Growing Marijuana Plants
720 ILCS 550/8 outlines the Illinois laws against growing marijuana plants. Under this section, it is unlawful to possess or grow marijuana plants. To qualify as a violation, the offender must know — or have a reason to know — that he or she is in possession of or growing actual marijuana plants.
That being said, there is an exception under 720 ILCS 550/11. Specifically, that section authorizes certain people to possess and grow marijuana plants for research purposes. The Illinois State Police is responsible for authorizing the possession and growing of marijuana plants under this section.
Illinois Penalties for Growing Marijuana Plants
The Illinois penalties for growing marijuana plants also appear in 720 ILCS 550/8. An escalating punishment scheme exists under state law. Offenders who grow a small number of plants face less severe penalties than larger grow operations.
Specifically, any person who violates 720 ILCS 550/8 by possessing or growing:
- Up to Five Plants: Can face Class A misdemeanor charges, which is usually punishable by 364 days in jail, $2,500 in fines, and 24 months of probation;
- Between Five and 50 Plants: Can face Class 4 felony charges, which is usually punishable by 12 to 36 months in jail, $25,000 in fines, and 30 months of probation;
- Between 20 and 50 Plants: Can face Class 3 felony charges, which is usually punishable by 24 to 60 months in jail, $25,000 in fines, and 30 months of probation;
- Between 50 and 200 Plants: Can face Class 2 felony charges, which is usually punishable by 36 to 84 months in jail, $25,000 in fines, and 48 months of probation; and
- More than 200 Plants: Can face Class 1 felony charges, which is usually punishable by 48 to 180 months in jail, $25,000 in fines, and 48 months of probation.
If a person grows 200 marijuana plants or more, the criminal fines can exceed the amounts listed above. For these larger-level offenses, Illinois law allows criminal fines up to $100,000. This enhanced fine exists to mitigate the cost of finding and destroying such a large number of marijuana plants.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.
(image courtesy of Esteban Lopez)