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Now that the law has changed in Illinois to allow recreational usage of marijuana, what does the law allow?

Brian L. Polinske
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Edwardsville Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer

Illinois will allow recreational marijuana use beginning January 1, 2020.  Legal users must be 21 years of age or older.  The only permitted seller of marijuana will be licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.  However, the law permits other sellers beginning in mid-2020.  There could be as many as almost 300 stores selling legally by 2002.  The intent of the law is to increase tax revenues for Illinois (which is currently in debt around 253 billion).  This experiment will prove to what extent any detrimental effect occurs to the using population, whether increased traffic deaths occur, and whether the increase in addiction treatment will outweigh the increase in tax income.  

The legal possession amount will be up to 30 grams (plant).  Up to 5 grams of concentrate, edibles 500 mg of THC.  Visitors to the state will be allowed to possess half of these limits.  

People can consume cannabis in their homes and in businesses that are allowed to do so.  Limits can be placed against cannabis usage just as firearms can be prohibited in the same settings.  No use can occur on public places, in any vehicle, on school grounds, near someone under the age 21, near an on-duty police officer, firefighter, corrections officer, or school bus driver.  Illinois universities will be allowed to ban usage.  

Non medical marijuana medical card holders cannot grow their own cannabis.

One interesting fact about the new law is that automatic pardons will occur via a governor's pardon for all persons convicted of possession of 30 grams or less, unless connected to a violent offense.   A person who qualifies as stated above can also file a petition to expunge with the local circuit court.  Local municipalities may still enact laws limiting cannabis businesses within their confines.  But they may not prohibit the use.

This change in the law will have an increase on the amount of people charged with DUI based upon drug use.  The current legal level is 5 nanograms of THC.  Currently the police don't have the ability to test one's body fluids to a scientific measurement of such specificity.  The current testing only reveals the presence of THC or its metabolites.  This will create further problems until the testing methods become scientifically accurate to commensurate with the current law.  

One interesting question of how this law plays out will be its effect upon neighboring states where use of cannabis is not legal.  Although out of state residents may use legally in Illinois, they cannot bring back any to their state if its prohibited by law in that state.  Users who still have THC in their system and drive within their states risk prosecution for DUI offenses.  

Also, for those convicted of prior misdemeanor cannabis possession charges of 30 grams or less - the arrest and charge will be automatically expunged beginning on January 1, 2020.  Others who were charged with possession of more than 30 grams may petition the state for expungement. 

Join The Conversation
Kathey 07/25/2019 04:54 AM
The active chemical in MJ called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to cannabinoid (CB) receptors located on several cell types in various organs. This greatly increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes in addition to impaired learning and memory.
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