An Update on Marijuana Laws in Illinois

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, drug crimes, Illinios drug laws,Marijuana is a controversial substance in America. States like Oregon, Washington and Colorado have recently legalized recreational use of marijuana, and the stigma surrounding the substance seems to be slowly fading across the country. In Illinois, opinions are mixed. Despite multiple setbacks, the state’s pilot program for legalized medical marijuana is going strong, with 29 dispensaries currently in business across the state. A bill to decriminalize marijuana in Illinois was vetoed last year, but a similar measure has recently been revived. Will Illinois follow suit with more relaxed marijuana legislation, or possibly legalize the substance for recreational use?

New Decriminalization Measure Submitted to Illinois Senate

A new measure was recently introduced into the Illinois Senate that would decriminalize marijuana in the state. A similar bill died last year after Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, calling for tighter restrictions. This new measure, which would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, does include many of the changes the Governor suggested. Per the new measure, possession of any amount of marijuana under 10 grams would result in a ticket rather than arrest. Fines would range from $100 to $200, and the new bill also lowers the limit at which a driver can be charged with drugged driving due to marijuana.

Supporters of the measure, including state prosecutors, say the more relaxed marijuana legislation will allow state authorities to put their already stretched resources to better use. Opponents of the measure worry that drug users will not have as easy access to treatment if they are not directed to it by the legal system, and fear the message decriminalizing marijuana could send to children.

Profitable Pot

As the debate on decriminalizing marijuana in Illinois continues, the recently legalized medical marijuana industry is reporting large profits. Since the Illinois medical marijuana pilot program was launched on November 9th, 2015, total retail sales have reached over $4.4 million. Medical marijuana shops across the state say February 2016 was their most profitable month to date, with nearly $1.5 million in sales brought in during that one month alone.

Twenty-nine shops are currently open for business, and a total of 3,042 patients were served during the month of February. Edibles and marijuana concentrates become more available throughout February as well, accounting for over $300,000 of the month’s total sales. In Illinois, wholesalers pay a 7 percent tax, meaning that in February alone the medical marijuana industry brought in around $83,000 in taxes. The pilot program is four years in total, and will end in 2018.

A Shift in Opinions

Public opinion on marijuana is also changing. According to a new poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, approximately 82 percent of Illinois voters say they support legalized medical marijuana. Only 16 percent of voters said they disapproved, a major change compared to a similar poll conducted in 2013. Only three years ago, 32 percent of Illinois voters opposed legalizing medical marijuana.

Support for recreational marijuana is not as strong, according to the poll, but opinions are split nearly down the middle. 54 percent of Illinois voters oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, while 45 percent say they support the move. Young Illinoisans most strongly supported legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, while older voters tended to oppose the drug.

Recreational Marijuana Is Still Illegal

Unless you are qualified for the state’s medical marijuana program, the possession, sale, and use of marijuana is still illegal in Illinois. While possessing a small amount of marijuana may result in a misdemeanor, most drug possession charges are considered felonies in Illinois and carry with them harsh consequences. If you are facing marijuana related charges, you need a qualified Chicago area criminal defense attorney by your side. Do not face fines, jail time, and drug treatment programs alone. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney have years of experience defending clients from drug charges. Call 312-270-0999 today to schedule your free consultation with us to review your legal options.

Sources:

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/crime-and-court/marijuana-decriminalization-revived-in-illinois-senate/article_08ef7346-3ec2-5eb7-8351-7128493d06a6.html

http://fox2now.com/2016/03/01/illinois-medical-marijuana-sales-nearly-1-5m-in-february/

http://paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu/_common/documents/opinion-polling/simon-institute-poll/psppi-simon-poll-spring2016-medicinal-marijuana.pdf

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