Cannabis Laws in Chicago and Across Illinois

Weed became legal in Illinois when the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was signed into law on June 25, 2019. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act made cannabis legal for adults 21 years or older beginning on January 1, 2020. However, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act did not completely legalize the possession and use of cannabis.

Possession Under Age 21

Cannabis possession by people under the age of 21 remains illegal. Possessing up to 10 grams is punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200. Residents of Illinois that are 21 or older can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of extract or concentrate, and 500 mg of THC edibles. Non-residents can possess up to 15 grams of flower, 2.5 grams of extract or concentrate, and 250 mg of THC edibles. 410 ILCS 705/10-10.

Cannabis Possession Amounts

Unlawful possession of cannabis between 10 and 30 grams is a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable up to half a year in jail and a $1,500 fine. Possessing more than 30 grams and up to 100 is a Class A misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor in Illinois. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable up to 364 days in jail and a $2,500 fine. If you are charged with possessing more than 100 grams, but no more than 500, you could be found guilty of a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony carries a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison.

If you had a prior cannabis possession offense, it becomes a Class 3 felony. A Class 3 felony has a maximum sentence of 5 years. If it’s over 500 grams but no more than 2,000, it’s a Class 3 felony. More than 2,000 grams and up to 5,000, it’s a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is punishable up to 7 years. Possessing more than 5,000 grams is a Class 1 felony, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years. 720 ILCS 550/4.

Intent to Deliver or Manufacture

The delivery of cannabis still illegal. A delivery is the transfer of possession of an illegal drug or item. If you are charged with possession with intent to deliver or manufacture, the potential penalty is the same as if you were charged with delivering the cannabis. Delivering cannabis up to 2.5 grams is a Class B misdemeanor. Delivering more than 2.5 grams but not more than 10 is a Class A misdemeanor.

More than 10 grams and up to 30 is a Class 4 felony. More than 30 grams and up to 500 is a Class 3 felony. More than 500 grams but less than 2,000 is a Class 2 felony. Delivering more than 2,000 grams but no more than 5,000 is a Class 1 felony. If you are charged with delivering more than 5,000 grams, it’s a Class X felony. A Class X felony is punishable up to 30 years. 720 ILCS 550/5.

Cannabis Trafficking

Illinois law distinguishes between a delivery and cannabis trafficking. Cannabis trafficking happens when you knowingly bring or cause to bring 2,500 grams or more of cannabis into Illinois with the purpose or intent of manufacture or delivery in Illinois, another state, or another country.

The penalty for cannabis trafficking is based on the amount trafficked. The minimum and maximum penalties for cannabis trafficking are twice the minimum and maximums for a delivery of the same amount. 720 ILCS 550/5.1.

Cannabis Near a School

Illinois creates more serious penalties for delivering cannabis within 500 feet of school grounds. Delivering cannabis up to 2.5 grams becomes a Class A misdemeanor. Delivering more than 2.5 grams but no more than 10 is a Class 4 felony. If it’s more than 10 grams but no greater than 30 grams, it’s a Class 3 felony.

If the amount is more than 30 grams but no more than 500, it’s a Class 2 felony. More than 500 grams but less than 2,000 is a Class 1 felony. For amounts greater than 2,000 grams, the possible punishment remains the same as a regular delivery. 720 ILCS 550/5.2.

Open Cannabis by Driver or Passenger

One consequence of cannabis legalization has been citations for open cannabis. Most people don’t know that they aren’t allowed to possess cannabis in a vehicle that is not in a sealed, odor proof, and child-resistant cannabis container. A ticket for open cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor. Even if you possess a lawful amount of cannabis, you aren’t allowed to have it in your car unless it is in a sealed, odor proof, child-resistant cannabis container. The cannabis container can’t be within the passenger area of the car and shouldn’t be within an arm’s reach of the driver. 625 ILCS 5/11-502.15.

Open cannabis law applies to passengers too. It is illegal for a passenger to have cannabis in the passenger area of a car unless it is in a sealed, odor proof, and child-resistant cannabis container. It carries the same penalty as an open cannabis ticket by a driver. 625 ILCS 5/11-502.15.

Sealed Cannabis Container

The definition of a sealed, odor proof, and child-resistant cannabis container has not yet been determined by Illinois courts. Until the definition has been determined by an Illinois court, a person should only carry cannabis in sealed containers from a dispensary in their car.

Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis

Just like alcohol, driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal. A chemical test indicating 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC or greater in blood, creates a presumption of guilt just like blowing a .08. For other bodily substances, a reading of 10 ng/ml of THC is required. 625 ILCS 5/11-501. Similar to alcohol, having less than 5 ng/ml THC does not mean that you can’t be found guilty of DUI. The officer’s testimony that you were impaired can be enough to charge and convict you of DUI.

Expungement of Cannabis Offenses

One positive from the new laws is that certain cannabis related crimes are now expungable. If you were arrested for a minor cannabis offense, it could be eligible for automatic expungement from police records. A minor cannabis offense is for delivery or possession of 30 grams or less. The arrest is eligible for automatic expungement of the arrest record from police records if the offense was committed before June 25, 2019. A delivery on school grounds does not qualify as a minor cannabis offense even if the amount was 30 grams or less.

A minor cannabis offense is not eligible for automatic expungement from police records if there was a conviction, you were charged with a violent crime and the cannabis offense, or if there was a delivery to a minor who was at least 3 years younger than you. However, if you wanted to expunge a minor cannabis offense from court records, you would have to file a motion to expunge. Convictions may be eligible for expungement. If the conviction was a misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony, you can petition the Court to vacate and expunge the conviction. 20 ILCS 2630/5.2.

Speak to Our Experienced Legal Team

Since 1990, our criminal and traffic legal team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC has been helping those charged with cases involving cannabis as well as other felony and misdemeanor crimes including theft, battery and driver’s license offenses. Call us at (312) 644-0444 for free information about your case today.