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What Recreational Marijuana Will Mean for Illinois ResidentsIn a long-expected move, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The new law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, shows that Illinois is changing tactics from criminalizing marijuana to creating a regulated industry. As with alcohol and tobacco, the state will control marijuana possession and use, with violations likely resulting in fines. Here are answers to common questions about how Illinois will regulate marijuana possession:

  1. Who Can Possess Marijuana?: Marijuana possession will be limited to adults age 21 and older. Illinois residents will be allowed to possess as much as 30 grams of marijuana in leafy form, five grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC infused in a product. Non-residents will be allowed to possess as much as 15 grams of marijuana.
  2. Where Can You Use Marijuana?: Marijuana use will not be allowed in public places, including most businesses and places of work. Local governments will be able to decide whether they will allow marijuana use inside marijuana dispensaries. Marijuana use will mostly be limited to private residences.
  3. Who Can Grow and Sell Marijuana?: You are not allowed to grow marijuana in your home unless you are a medical marijuana patient. Marijuana sales will be restricted to licensed dispensaries, similar to the medical marijuana dispensaries. This is how the state will try to keep the industry under control and generate revenue.
  4. How Will the Change Affect Those Previously Convicted?: People previously convicted for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana will be able to petition for a pardon from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. If you are pardoned, the Illinois Attorney General could expunge the conviction from your record. State’s attorneys on the county level will also be allowed to expunge convictions.
  5. What Else Should You Know?: It will still be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. However, Illinois must determine how it will measure whether someone is impaired by marijuana. Unlike blood alcohol, traces of marijuana can remain in your body for weeks after use.

Contact a Crystal Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

After the law goes into effect, Illinois residents and law enforcement will need time to understand the limits of Illinois’ recreational marijuana policy. This may result in people being charged when they have not actually violated the law. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can contest an unjust drug charge being brought against you. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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How Marijuana Possession Can Be Both Legal and IllegalIn many states, the difference between state and federal marijuana laws creates a bizarre contradiction. Possessing marijuana can at the same time be legal and illegal, depending on which level of government you are dealing with. The federal government is strict in its ban of buying, selling and possessing marijuana. Many states are more liberal with their marijuana laws and allow possession for medicinal and recreational purposes. However, state laws will not protect you against federal charges for marijuana possession.

Drug Schedules

The federal government’s classification of drugs is based on the Controlled Substances Act, which groups drugs into five schedules:

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Recreational Marijuana Would Create New Criminal ChargesIllinois will have a referendum question on the November 2018 election ballot asking whether the state should allow the production and sale of recreational marijuana for people age 21 and older. The results of the referendum will not be binding, but asking voters the question shows that lawmakers are seriously considering legalization. If Illinois does decide to legalize recreational marijuana, the state will have a lot of work to do in order to regulate it, including changing the state’s criminal drug laws. There are several complicated factors involved with legalizing marijuana on a state level:

  1. Quantity Limits: States that allow recreational marijuana put limits on how many plants a person may cultivate and how many ounces they may possess. People using marijuana for medical purposes are generally allowed to grow and possess more.
  2. Public Use: States with legalized marijuana generally do not allow people to use it in public places, including designated smoking areas. The infraction can be a misdemeanor, depending on how much the person has in his or her possession.
  3. Distribution: As with medical marijuana or liquor, only licensed vendors would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana. Selling or delivering marijuana without a license would be a criminal offense.
  4. Underage Possession: Illinois has signaled that there would be an age minimum of 21 in order to possess marijuana. Unlike with underage possession of alcohol, the amount of marijuana that the underage person possesses could change the severity of the charges.
  5. Driving While High: Driving under the influence of marijuana is already a crime in Illinois, with a zero-tolerance policy because the substance is illegal. Driving while high on marijuana would still be a crime. However, lawmakers would need to come up with a new standard for determining when a person’s marijuana use has impaired his or her driving.
  6. State vs. Federal Law: Unless the U.S. Congress changes the law, it will still be a federal crime to possess and distribute marijuana. States have jurisdiction over people who use or sell the substance within their borders. Transporting marijuana over a state line is a federal offense, even if both states allow recreational marijuana.

Growing Pains

Local law enforcement would need time to adjust to the new laws if Illinois legalizes recreational marijuana. There would likely be several arrests as police and the public learn what constitutes legal marijuana possession. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney can help you contest your drug charges, regardless of whether Illinois’ laws change. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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Posted on in Vehicle Searches

drug-dui-lawsIn 2013, Illinois joined several other states in allowing people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. People who have qualifying medical conditions may register with the Department of Public Health and receive a card allowing them to legally buy and use marijuana in Illinois. Once a person is registered and issued a card, a person's status as a registered patient is also noted on his driving record. Permitting the use of marijuana also necessitated a change in the application of Illinois DUI laws to account for the possibility of drivers having marijuana in their system while driving.

Previously, Illinois DUI laws were zero tolerance laws when it came to a driver having marijuana in their blood, breath, or urine when operating a car. It did not matter whether a driver was actually impaired; if the presence of marijuana was detected, the driver could be charged with DUI. Marijuana may typically stay in a person's system for about 30 days. Therefore, a person could test positive for the presence of marijuana in his system while driving and thereafter be charged with DUI, even if he had not used marijuana in weeks. Since the law permitting the use of medical marijuana was passed, there is now a less stringent look at marijuana and driving for registered patients.

However, after the enactment of Senate Bill 2228 in July 2016, the law has been amended. To be sure, the bill amends the state's zero tolerance per se traffic law providing that the existence of THC from marijuana in blood at levels below five nanograms per milliliter “shall not give rise to any presumption that the person was or was not under the influence of cannabis.”

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Guidance For Illinois Drivers On Marijuana And DUIIllinois' new law allowing citations instead of jail time for the possession of small amounts of marijuana also offers clarity to drivers who are allowed to use medical marijuana. We have previously discussed that under Illinois law, a driver with any amount of marijuana on his breath, urine, or blood, could be charged with driving under the influence. This was a problem because the active chemical in marijuana, THC, can be detected in a user's system even 30 days after use. Long-term users of marijuana can test positive after longer periods of time following their last use.

The new Illinois law softens the zero tolerance policy on marijuana and DUIs. Police officers will be now able to arrest a driver for DUI if the driver tests positive for five or more nanograms of THC in his blood or 10 or more nanograms in his saliva. Like with alcohol, the levels of THC in a person's blood or saliva still detectable after a period of time depend on the person and their metabolism. Generally, a saliva test for THC can detect the chemical for up to 24 hours after use. It is, therefore, difficult to use a blanket guide of how soon after using medical marijuana a driver can be charged with DUI. As with a driver whose blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, if a driver exceeds the legally allowed levels of THC in his system, a conviction for DUI may result even without evidence of impaired driving. This aspect of the law remains the same as under the zero tolerance law previously applicable. The safest course of action to avoid a DUI when using medical marijuana would be to avoid driving immediately after smoking or consuming any item laced with marijuana. If the traces of THC found are above the legal limit, it is unlikely that a defense of medical use of marijuana would prevent a conviction. The penalties for DUI remain unchanged, and a first-time offender can receive a minimum of a one-year license suspension and up to a year imprisonment. For an aggravated DUI, a driver can receive up to 12 years in prison. In addition, failure to submit to alcohol or marijuana testing when arrested for a DUI can lead to a driver having his license automatically suspended. Contact Us For Legal Assistance A DUI arrest can have a serious impact on a person's life. Even if you have a medical marijuana card and can use marijuana legally, Illinois DUI laws may apply to you. If you have been arrested for a DUI, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney handling your case. For a free consultation, reach out to our passionate Crystal Lake DUI attorneys and let us assist you with your case. Sources: http://www.livescience.com/24553-what-is-thc.html http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-illinois-marijuana-decriminalzation-0730-20160729-story.html
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