Mar 30

During the March 2018 primary elections, approximately 63% of Cook County voters endorsed legislation of marijuana for recreational use, reported The Chicago Tribune.

The marijuana legalization issue entered the primary ballots in the form of a non-binding referendum question. Specifically, voters were asked whether adults aged 21 and older should be allowed to consume marijuana recreationally. Such use would be subject to state regulations, taxes, and other applicable rules.

Since Illinois legalized medicinal marijuana in 2013, the attitudes toward recreational use have changed drastically. Colorado, Washington and California — among others — legalized recreational use as well as established tax structures and other regulations. Illinois could be the latest state to change its approach to recreational use of marijuana.

That being said, it is vital to note that this referendum did not make any change to existing rules and regulations. The Illinois legislature has not adjusted the state-wide laws concerning marijuana. Consequently, existing laws governing marijuana use in Illinois will remain in place for the foreseeable future. That is why the following section will provide an overview of current Illinois laws concerning marijuana, which is often referred to legally as cannabis.

Cannabis Control Act

The Cannabis Control Act (the Act) provides important guidelines for marijuana use in Illinois. On a larger level, the Act focuses on targeting illegal traffickers and organized crime that violates cannabis laws. Illinois employs reasonable penalties under the Act, with punishments increasing for large-scale or repeat offenses.

In order to understand the escalating basis of the Illinois penalty system, the following section will explore the penalties for illegal possession of cannabis.

Illegal Possession of Cannabis

Outside of narrow exceptions for medicinal use, it is unlawful to possess cannabis in Illinois. Stated otherwise, without a valid prescription, a person is not allowed to possess marijuana in Illinois.

Under the Act, the penalties for illegal possession increase based on the amount of cannabis in question. In smaller amounts, illegal possession of cannabis can be either a civil fine or a misdemeanor offense.

  • 10 grams or less is a civil violation with a fine up to $200;
  • More than 10 grams and less than 30 grams is a Class B misdemeanor;
  • More than 30 grams and less than 100 grams is a Class A misdemeanor (if a first offense).

Once illegal possession of cannabis crosses the 100-gram threshold (or there are multiple occurrences), then the offense can become a felony crime. At that point, the penalties become much more severe and the possibility of incarceration increases substantially.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all criminal 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 or by completing an online form.

(image courtesy of Dominik Martin)