**Can You Smoke Weed in Public in Illinois? **
Yes. Illinois legalized medical marijuana for qualified medical patients in 2014, while recreational marijuana became legal in early 2020. It is the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis and the first to do so by an act of legislation instead of a ballot initiative. The legislation, known as the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, followed HB 1438 approval by the Illinois General Assembly.
Adults aged 21 and older can purchase marijuana products in Illinois with or without medical marijuana cards from licensed marijuana dispensaries. There is, however, a legal limit to what they can possess per time, depending on marijuana form. Adults can have 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and about 1 ounce or 30 grams of cannabis flower on them. The legal possession limit of marijuana-infused products such as edibles, salty snacks, entrees, and tinctures is 500 milligrams of THC. Out-of-state visitors can only possess half of these amounts legally. In Illinois, licensed recreational marijuana dispensaries are not permitted to sell a mix-pack of cannabis concentrates, cannabis buds, and cannabis-infused products. It means that consumers can only buy each marijuana product separately.
With a doctor's recommendation, medical patients registered with the state may legally consume medical marijuana per the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana in the state include Autism, Anorexia nervosa, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, migraines, and hepatitis C. Others are Neuropathy, spinal cord disease, fibrous dysplasia, lupus, and post-traumatic stress (PTDS). Illinois permits medical marijuana patients to grow five plants at a time for personal use, provided they are in a locked facility. However, it prohibits non-patients from growing the plant at home, and anyone who violates this risks a civil penalty of $200.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois in 2020, Illinois lawmakers have made several legislative moves to ensure the growth of the marijuana industry. There have been some notable setbacks that the 2021 House Bills are trying to fix and introduce more diversity to the state's marijuana industry. The Illinois marijuana industry is currently being regulated by:
Cannabis Regulation Tax Act (410 ILCS 705/1-999)
This Act legalized the lawful use of cannabis for persons 21 years and older, and it stipulates that consumers be taxed like alcohol. Per this Act, consumers must show proof of age before purchasing marijuana or marijuana-infused products. It prohibits the selling, distributing, or transferring of cannabis to minors and persons under age 21 years. The Act emphasizes that persons who pay their taxes regularly are those that will have the permission to conduct sales of cannabis in the state. It also forbids driving under the influence of marijuana. The Cannabis Regulation Tax Act limits the adult legal possession of cannabis-infused products to no more than 500 milligrams of THC, 30 grams of cannabis flower, and 5 grams of cannabis concentrates. By this Act, persons under 21 years possessing cannabis are guilty of a civil law violation. It equally makes provisions for the preparation of cannabis-infused products and assigns the Illinois Department of Agriculture to regulate the production of these products. The Cannabis Regulation Tax Act created the Cannabis Task Force to ensure that marijuana is kept off the highways. It recommends arrest for DUI for any person caught driving with 5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood.
Cannabis Control Act (720 ILCS 550/1 , et seq.)
The General Assembly, through this Act, acknowledges the effects of marijuana and recognizes the potential damages that may result from using cannabis. They also realize that previous legislation enacted to prohibit the use of marijuana usually ends up attracting more Illinois residents to consume the drug instead of deterring its further use. In the general interest of the welfare of Illinois residents, this Act established a fair penalty system for commercial traffickers and large-scale marijuana vendors. It provides flexibility in the sentencing discretion of the courts. It also institutes penalties in a sharp progression depending on the number of substances containing marijuana involved in each case.
Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/100 , et seq.,)
The purpose of this legislation is to check the increasing incidence of drugs and dangerous substances abuse and the consequential health and welfare damages to Illinois residents. It created a control system over the use and distribution of controlled substances purposely to:
Persons who violate this Act in terms of illicit possession, manufacture, possession with the intent to deliver, or delivery of controlled substances may suffer multiple convictions under each Section of the Controlled Substance Act.
The following are Illinois marijuana bills in the 2021 legislative sessions:
Marijuana Equity Licencing Bill (HB 1443)
HB 1443 was created to address the shortcomings in the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act that legalized recreational cannabis, particularly at ensuring better racial diversity in Illinois' marijuana licensing process. The legislation creates three marijuana lotteries to ensure equity for all persons including the brown and black community, otherwise referred to as social equity applicants.
According to this bill, social equity applicants deserve a decent chance to make a profit by getting access to lucrative business locations. They will not be subject to rules demanding marijuana sellers to cite their dispensaries at least 1,500 feet apart. This bill was sent to the Governor on June 26, 2021, for assent and eventual passage as law. On July 15, 2021, the Governor announced the signing of the bill, which is to take effect immediately.
The first marijuana licensing lottery, with 55 available slots, is strictly for qualifying applicants. Another 55 licenses slot is exclusively for social equity applicants who have or whose close relatives have a prior marijuana conviction or who have spent at least ten years living in a "disproportionately impacted region." A third licensing lottery will award an additional 75 licenses to "tied applicants," or people who may have been granted a license but were unable to obtain one because their license application scores were tied with those of another applicant or applicants. In 2022, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued a total 185 dispensing licenses to qualified persons in line with the Bill.
This bill seeks to legalize all cannabis possession in Illinois, irrespective of the amount. Under current state law, possession of fewer than 30 grams of marijuana flower is allowed and persons caught with more than this amount face penalties. HB 3085 aims to remove all existing criminal penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana and automatically expunge criminal records for persons convicted of similar offenses. The bill passed the second reading on April 21, 2021, on the House floor and was re-referred to the Rules Committee on April 23, 2021.
Although introduced in 2021, this bill was eventually passed by the house on March 3, 2022. The purpose of the Bill is to defend cannabis users against workplace discrimination. According to the legislation, an employer cannot reject a job application or fire an employee because the results of a drug test showed that the applicant has THC in their system.
In its revised form, the Bill would safeguard employees who use legal products i.e., legal marijuana away from their workplace during off-duty times and while they are not on call. The measure would neither add any new protections to the state's workers' compensation statute nor provide any rights for employees of organizations that are contractors for the federal Department of Transportation. The Bill is currently assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.
Marijuana is still illegal in the US despite the legal status in Illinois and other individual states. However, US citizens can possess and cultivate low-THC cannabis (cannabis with not more than 0.3% THC) like hemp and CBD oil thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. The US House of Representatives and Senate are also working on different bills to legalize marijuana use across the country. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 introduced by the legislators aim to:
The MORE Act of 2020 passed the House in 2020 but failed to receive any vote from the Senators. Another MORE Act also passed the House in 2022 and it awaits approval from the Senate. While the legislators are working to legalize adult-use marijuana, the recent executive pardon by the US President has also increased the prospect of legalization. In October 2022, President Biden issued an executive order that will pardon individuals with marijuana conviction history.
Yes, qualified persons can use recreational cannabis and medical cannabis in Illinois. Adults 21 years and older are those eligible to consume recreational and medical marijuana. The use of recreational marijuana is prohibited for persons under 21 years. However, medical patients who are minors can use medical cannabis under the supervision of adults or caregivers.
Cannabis is a plant that serves as a medicinal drug and still has recreational purposes. Typically, people eat it raw, smoke it, use it as a supplement, brew it as a tea, and consume it in the form of edibles such as candies or brownies. Cannabis has at least 120 active cannabinoids, the most prominent being the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These main components of cannabis (THC and CBD) have medicinal and therapeutic uses, but THC equally has psychoactive properties that make cannabis users high.
Historically, as with other states in the U.S., cannabis has been mostly illegal in Illinois. Mexican immigration to the United States around the 1910 Mexican Revolution partly drove the reason for illegalizing cannabis in the nation. During that period, the traditional means of intoxication for Mexican immigrants were smoking weed, and most Americans were not comfortable with this. At one point, there were rumors that Mexicans were distributing the killer cannabis to naive American schoolchildren. Although there was no substantial proof to support claims that marijuana was entirely evil, 29 states outlawed cannabis between 1916 and 1931. There was also no report of death from overdose, but many Americans were determined to ban it. In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 banned weed nationwide despite objections from the American Medical Association regarding its medicinal benefits.
In Illinois, there are certain instances where people cannot use recreational cannabis. These include:
Anyone 21 years and older can legally purchase cannabis only from state-approved marijuana dispensaries, with or without a medical marijuana card. However, county and municipal governments have the power to decide whether to permit sales of marijuana in their jurisdiction. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is responsible for marijuana licensing in the state. Currently, marijuana consumers can buy up to 30 grams of cannabis flower or its equivalent in other forms for recreational use. Medical patients can purchase an adequate supply of marijuana which ideally translates to 2.5 usable ounces every 14 days.
Licensed dispensaries sell various forms of marijuana products which include edibles, flowers, hash, and concentrates. In many instances, licensed marijuana dispensaries also sell marijuana paraphernalia. The National Drug Intelligence Center describes drug paraphernalia as any equipment used to consume, conceal, and produce illegal drugs. Examples of marijuana paraphernalia include bongs, pipes, grinders, vape pens, bubblers, and vaporizers.
Licensed marijuana dispensaries in Illinois can only sell recreational marijuana or marijuana-infused products to eligible persons who present their government-issued IDs at the point of sale. Such IDs must bear buyers' age and home addresses. Dispensaries must scan the IDs to confirm that they are legitimate but are not permitted by state law to keep such records in a bid to protect consumers' privacy. After the legal sale of cannabis to eligible persons, dispensaries are expected to enter the required information regarding such sales into the state's electronic verification. These include the dispensing agent's ID number, dispensary's ID number, date and time of the purchase, and the amount and type of marijuana or marijuana-infused product sold.
Currently, most dispensaries accept only cash as means of payment, while a few may allow buyers to pay using debit cards. Checks and credit cards are not yet tenable for the purchase of marijuana in Illinois. Licensed marijuana dispensaries in Illinois must not be located within 1,500 feet of one another. They are not allowed to sell live plant materials or a mix of marijuana, marijuana-infused products, or marijuana concentrates for one price.
Generally, it is prohibited for cannabis businesses in Illinois to promote marijuana products by sharing them or providing promotional materials that will captivate children. Marijuana businesses must not roll out misleading advertisements or display images of cannabis buds or leaves when they advertise. Also, they must not promote overconsumption of marijuana or portray actual consumption in their commercials. Licensed marijuana dispensaries in Illinois are permitted to operate between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. daily.
While there are no penalties for Illinois residents who use and cultivate cannabis within the legally permitted amount and number, the state stipulates stiff penalties for violators of marijuana laws. These include:
Legally, eligible Illinois residents can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, while out-of-state visitors or tourists are permitted to carry up to 15 grams. Illinois marijuana possession laws prohibit buying more than 30 grams of cannabis. Persons caught carrying between 30 and 100 grams of marijuana are guilty of a misdemeanor on the first offense. This offense attracts a maximum fine of $2,500 up to one year of jail time. For a subsequent offense, persons carrying between 30 grams and 100 grams commit a felony punishable by a maximum of 3 years jail time and up to $25,000 in fines. Possession of more than 100 grams of marijuana is also a felony. Illinois mete out the same penalties for persons caught possessing between 100 and 500 grams of cannabis.
The punishment for carrying between 500 and 2,000 grams of cannabis in Illinois is a prison term of between 2 and 5 years. It also includes up to $25,000 in fines. The minimum and maximum jail time for offenders caught with between 2,000 and 5,000 grams of cannabis in Illinois are 3 and 7 years, respectively. The highest monetary fine for this category of the possession offense is also $25,000. Finally, for possession amounts greater than 5,000 grams, the culprits risk between 4 and 15 years of jail time and fines up to $25,000.
In Illinois, legal marijuana cultivation can only be done by growers who have enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program and registered patients. However, registered patients cannot grow more than five plants at any given time. Non-medical patients that grow up to five plants commit a civil offense punishable by a maximum fine of $200. They commit a felony if they grow more than five plants. If the number of plants being cultivated is between 5 and 20, they face 1 to 3 years jail time and fines up to $25,000. Any non-patient caught cultivating between 50 to 200 risks paying penalties of up to $100,000 and faces between 3 and 7 years imprisonment. Growing more than 200 plants attracts a jail time of between 4 to 15 years and a maximum monetary fine of $100,000.
In Illinois, it is illegal to smoke weed in public spaces like parks, school grounds, inside buses, or government buildings. Unlawful places to consume marijuana also include anywhere bystanders can observe the marijuana user; this may include in front porches according to local ordinances. Consumption on the premises where it is prohibited may lead to fines as determined by the county or city rules. In some cities, first offenders may pay up to $50 while subsequent offenses may lead to a $100-fine. Using marijuana in schools and anywhere close to kids may lead to stiffer punishments .
Sales of cannabis by unlicensed entities in Illinois is a misdemeanor if the amount involved is less than 10 grams. Any unauthorized person caught selling less than 2.5 grams of cannabis faces six months of jail time and a maximum fine of $1,500. Illegal sale of between 2.5 to 10 grams attracts a maximum fine of $2,500 and a jail sentence of up to 1 year. Engaging in the unlawful sale of more than 10 grams of cannabis in Illinois is a felony and comes with severe penalties. For quantities between 10 and 30 grams, offenders face between 1 and 3 years jail time and up to $25,000 in fines. The punishment for selling between 30 and 500 grams is a maximum of $50,000 fines and a prison term between 2 and 5 years. If the quantity sold illegally is between 500 and 2,000 grams, offenders suffer between 3 and 7 years of jail sentence and up to a $100,000 fine.
Also, any unauthorized person caught selling between 2,000 and 5,000 grams of marijuana faces imprisonment of between 4 and 15 years with a maximum fine of $150,000. For selling quantities of cannabis greater than 5,000 grams illegally in Illinois, offenders may face charges similar to violators of Illinois marijuana trafficking laws.
Illinois permits the sale of marijuana paraphernalia by licensed entities. However, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500 fine to possess paraphernalia with more than 10 grams of cannabis. The illegal sale of paraphernalia is a felony punishable by fines up to $25,000 and between 1 and 3 years jail time. If sold to a minor, the seller faces between 2 and 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. An offender also risks a maximum fine of $25,000 with a jail time of between 3 and 7 years for selling marijuana paraphernalia to a pregnant woman.
DUI of marijuana in Illinois is a misdemeanor for a first offense. An offender's driver's license will be suspended for six months, provided there is no bodily injury involved. However, if there is physical harm or such an event is a repeat offense, Illinois considers it a felony punishable by a 1-year prison term with a minimum of 1-year driver's license suspension. It also attracts a fine of up to $2,500.
Violators of marijuana laws in Illinois may also lose their assets to law enforcers depending on the charges against them. According to the Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, local law enforcers can seize the violator’s personal properties if there is enough evidence that such properties were obtained through or used to carry out the crime. Examples of assets that may be confiscated by the police include: cash, vehicles, buildings, and jewelries.
Other Illinois marijuana limitations involve possession of marijuana concentrates and harshish. Typically, adult residents in Illinois can possess up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrates legally, while out-of-state visitors or tourists can carry up to 2.5 grams. Anyone caught possessing hashish and marijuana concentrates in quantities more than these legal limits risks a similar degree of penalties as those involving plant cannabis.
Marijuana is legal in Illinois but possessing above the legal amounts can result in misdemeanor and felony charges. The charges faced by offenders depend on the weight or quantity of the marijuana found on them. While simple possession offenses involving more than 30 grams of weed may result in misdemeanor charges, marijuana trafficking often result in felony charges. Generally, violators of Illinois marijuana distribution laws can either apply for deferred adjudication through the First Offender Initiative Program or fight their case in court.
Marijuana law violators that request for the first offender program in Illinois may get their cases dismissed if they complete the program's requirements. These requirements often differ from one local ordinance to another. Some of the general program requirements include:
Note that this program may not be available in a county/city in Illinois and the prosecutor may deny the offender’s request for the first offender initiative. Apart from the initiative, there are other possible remedies for defendants of violating Illinois marijuana laws. With the help of an experienced attorney, violators may provide evidence in a court to prove that they are not guilty of the marijuana charges. This can also lead to getting lesser penalties from the presiding judge. Examples of strategies to use in beating a marijuana charge in court includes:
Illinois earned its statehood in 1818, following which marijuana was practically legal for over a century. Recreational marijuana was introduced by Mexican immigrants in the mid-1910s but was met with high anti-Mexican immigrant sentiments. During the Great Depression, marijuana became a cause for worry, and as a result of some partisan experiments and massive propaganda campaigns, the state moved to illegalize marijuana. In 1931, six years before the passing of the federal Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, Illinois outlawed recreational marijuana. In the 1950s, the United States government put in place some tough sentencing laws. In the late 1970s, there was already widespread use of marijuana in Illinois, and consequently, in 1978, the state's Cannabis Control Act emerged to reduce the harsh penalties imposed by federal laws. With this done, the state intended to clamp down on persons engaged in distributing and trafficking marijuana and not the consumers.
The Cannabis Control Act of 1978 practically legalized medical marijuana. However, the Department of Police did not approve of any of the licenses issued to physicians by the Department of Human Services to treat certain illnesses with cannabis. In 2013, Governor Pat Quin endorsed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act following a 35 to 21 approval vote from the state's Senate. This endorsement legalized medical marijuana in Illinois in absolute terms and was a pilot program to determine its safety, interest levels, and monetary considerations. In August 2018, Illinois Legislature passed the Illinois Hemp Act, allowing the growing, processing, and sales of hemp and hemp-based products. The state issued many hemp licenses at that time based on satisfying specific criteria instead of a judged application process. This action made way for the boom in the Illinois cannabis market.
In late 2019, the state upgraded the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program after an impressive outing, having served over 100,000 patients through 57 licensed marijuana dispensaries. Finally, on May 31, 2019, Illinois lawmakers passed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act to legalize recreational cannabis. With the passing of this Act, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana through legislation rather than ballot initiatives. It is also the second in the Midwest to end marijuana prohibition.
Despite the legalization of cannabis in Illinois, the state places certain restrictions on possession, use, transport, and sales. These include