drug possessionAs society’s opinion on marijuana has become more relaxed, many states have taken efforts to decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana. Some states have legalized the use of medical marijuana as a treatment for those suffering from health problems. A few, like Oregon and Washington, have even legalized marijuana growth and consumption completely for both medical and non-medical users. Illinois, however, has been slow to follow this trend. After a drawn out battle, medical marijuana just recently became available in the state, and some cities across the state have decriminalized low-level marijuana possession, but the drug remains illegal in much of the state. That may soon change, however, as the Illinois Senate recently approved a measure that would decriminalize low-level marijuana possession statewide.

Toke and Ticket

The Illinois Senate voted 37 to 19 in favor of the legislation, which was passed successfully through the house a month prior. If signed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, those caught possessing 15 grams of marijuana or less, about 25 cigarette-sized joints worth of marijuana, would face a ticket and fine over arrest and jail time. Currently, those arrested for low-level possession face fines of up to $2,500 and a jail sentence of up to one year. Much like getting a traffic ticket, the new penalties would be much less serious, up to $125 in fines without any arrest or court time.


medical marijuana, Illinois law, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyIt has been more than 21 months since the Illinois medical marijuana pilot program officially went into effect. However, the program, which was designed to provide insight into how the state and society would be affected by medicinal use of the drug, has yet to offer any type of usable data since dispensaries have not had any product to make legally available. The wait, it seems, is just about over. At least one grower is reportedly beginning to harvest the first legally-grown crop of marijuana in the state, and officials indicate that dispensaries around the state will soon be able to offer registered participants the opportunity to purchase it.

Licensed Growers Only

The measure officially legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana was signed into law on August 1, 2013, by then-Governor Pat Quinn. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act went into effect on January 1, 2014, and those with qualifying conditions began talking to their doctors about participating in the program. To date, more than 3,000 applications have been processed by the Department of Public Health, but due to bureaucratic delays and ongoing legal battles, production did not begin until earlier this spring.

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