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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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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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