Can I Still Be Arrested for Marijuana Offenses in Illinois?

The short answer is “yes.” Despite Illinois becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis on Jan. 1 of this year, it’s crucial to understand the law’s provisions over the amount of pot you can possess and where it can be legally consumed.

Even with the growing number of states legalizing the drug, the FBI reports police across the country make more arrests – four out of every 10 – over marijuana than any other drug. In 2018, the FBI says 663,000 pot-related arrests were made, and 92% resulted in possession charges.

Frequently asked questions over marijuana use in Illinois

While the law has been in effect for a few months, some commonly-asked questions over Illinois’ cannabis law include:

  • How much marijuana can I possess?:Illinoisans can legally have up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, which is close to an ounce. The limit for edibles and other cannabis-infused products is 500 milligrams of THC. Out-of-state visitors can possess half of those amounts.
  • Who can buy cannabis products?:Anyone over the age of 21 can purchase marijuana and other cannabis-infused products from licensed sellers, with or without a medical marijuana card.
  • Where can I smoke marijuana?:It is legal to smoke pot at cannabis-related businesses or in the user’s home. Use is banned from public places, such as parks or streets, in motor vehicles, on school grounds – unless they have medical marijuana licenses – or near someone under 21 years old, police officers, firefighters, corrections officers or on-duty school bus drivers.
  • Who can legally sell marijuana?:The only legal sellers in 2020 are medical marijuana dispensaries. Beginning this summer, the state is expected to grant dozens of additional licenses to new stores, processors, and other related businesses. By 2022, up to 295 stores are expected to be up and running.
  • Can I grow marijuana?:Those with medical marijuana licenses are allowed to grow up to five plants at one time. However, non-patients are not allowed to grow their own at home. Violations are deemed civil penalties punishable with a fine of up to $200.

Severe punishments can still result

A first offense possession conviction for someone caught with more than 30 grams of marijuana can result in up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A second offense brings a possible sentence of up to three years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Despite the legalization of marijuana and other cannabis products in Illinois, severe penalties can still result for those possessing more than the legal limit. If you are arrested, an experienced criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and help you avoid jail time as well as potentially devastating personal and financial consequences.