What You Need to Know About Being Arrested for Possession of Marijuana

Marijuana At this point in history, Illinois law considers cannabis, or marijuana, a less harmful drug than other controlled substances. People are even legally allowed to possess it if they complete the process of applying for the state’s medical marijuana registry. With that said, marijuana remains illegal for recreational use, and anyone caught possessing it for non-medical purposes may still face some serious penalties under Section 4 of 720 Illinois Statutes 550, also known as the Cannabis Control Act. Here is what you need to know about being arrested for marijuana possession.

Is Marijuana Possession a Felony?

It can be. There are two main factors for sentencing someone convicted of marijuana possession. The first is how much they had on their person:

  • Having ten grams or less would be considered a “civil law violation.” There is a fine between $100 and $200, but there is no jail time. Better still, once you pay the fine, the record of the offense is expunged from your record half a year later.
  • Having more than 10 and less than 30 grams would constitute a Class B misdemeanor. The maximum fine jumps to $1,500, and you may spend up to 180 days in jail.
  • Possession of more than 30 and less than 100 grams of cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries the same maximum fine but may entail up to 364 days behind bars. A subsequent conviction for this upgrades the charge to a Class 4 felony. The fine skyrockets to $25,000 (which is the same with all felonies) and anyone convicted of this may have to spend between one and three years in prison.
  • Getting caught even once with above 100 and under 500 grams also results in a Class 4 felony, and a subsequent conviction would raise the felony level to Class 3. The minimum prison time increases to two years, and the maximum increases to five.
  • A Class 3 felony charge may also come up any time someone is caught possessing more than 500 but up to 2,000 grams of cannabis.
  • If it is discovered that you have as little as 2,000 or as much as 5,000 grams of marijuana, you may face a Class 2 felony charge and, if convicted, between three and seven years of imprisonment.
  • Possession of any substance containing more than 5,000 grams is a Class 1 felony, punishable by imprisonment for between four and fifteen years.

Penalties for  Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver

The second factor for the severity of a cannabis possession sentence is whether the accused had it for personal use or with the intent to sell and deliver it. In fact, under the Cannabis Control Act, Illinois law considers this a wholly separate charge from simple possession. Even people who own marijuana for legitimate medical reasons are not allowed to sell it, other than licensed dispensaries.

The Cannabis Control Act has a separate set of penalties for this crime in Section 5, along with the crimes of manufacturing and delivering cannabis. Seeing that mere possession with intent is treated the same as those other two crimes, the sentences for this are significantly more severe than possession without that intent:

  • There is no civil law violation for possession with intent to deliver. Having as much as 2.5 grams with the intent to deliver is a Class B misdemeanor, and having more grams than that but less than 10 is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • The same amount that would get you a Class B misdemeanor for simple possession - more than 10 grams, less than 30 - is a Class 4 felony if it is determined that you had the goal of selling it.
  • Having more than 30 grams of cannabis but less than 500 is a Class 3 felony. Unlike with possession, where that same felony level would require a fine of up to $25,000, this crime may result in a fine as high as $50,000.
  • A guilty verdict for possession of above 500 grams but no higher than 2000 grams with intent to deliver is a Class 2 felony. The maximum fine doubles to $100,000.
  • The maximum fine increases to $150,000 for possession of any substance containing between 2,000 and 5,000 grams of cannabis with intent to deliver, which is considered a Class 1 felony.
  • Possession of anything more than $5,000 is a Class X felony, the highest possible felony level. The sentence can be as costly as $200,000 in fines, and prison time may be as short as six years and as long as thirty.

Marijuana may not be included in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, and crimes related to it are not viewed as being on the same level as other drug crimes. However, the consequences of being caught just having it on your person or property can be extremely harsh, especially if the courts believe that you intended to distribute it. The Chicago marijuana possession attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC understand this, and they treat every client and case with the seriousness they deserve. If you or a loved one face charges of possession of marijuana, with or without intent to deliver, contact us today for a free consultation at (312) 644-0444.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : August 4, 2020