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chicago drug crime defense lawyerIllinois legalized marijuana in 2020, and adults over 21 years of age are able to legally possess, consume, and purchase cannabis in the state. However, it must be consumed on private property or properties with on-premises consumption licenses.  Public consumption is still illegal in Chicago. It is also illegal for people to consume cannabis in any vehicle or operate a motor vehicle under the influence of cannabis. Cannabis may be transported in a vehicle but it cannot be accessible by any occupant of the vehicle during transportation and must be in a child-resistant container. Cannabis purchased in Illinois cannot be transported to another state.

Marijuana can be purchased at licensed dispensaries, but the possession limitations include 30 grams for Illinois residents and 15 grams for non-residents. The limitations for cannabis-infused products are 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for Illinois residents and 250 milligrams of THC for non-residents.

If you were charged with a criminal offense related to marijuana, contact a drug crime criminal defense lawyer for help. 

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Chicago criminal lawyerOriginally published: December 26, 2016 - Updated April 20, 2022

Update: At our law firm, we have consistently kept up with all of the changes to the laws regarding marijuana use in the state of Illinois. A few years ago, we put together the post shown below as a consideration in the decriminalization of cannabis that was going on at the time. We highlighted some expert opinions that expressed concern over the use of drug-sniffing dogs in the state as the criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession were being lifted.

Today, these concerns have grown even further as the state of Illinois has fully legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults in the state. As of January 1, 2020, an adult over the age of 21 is permitted to possess and consume cannabis for recreational purposes and to purchase cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries.

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drugs_20210331-223128_1.jpgIn Illinois, the criminal consequences for possession of illicit substances vary significantly by the type and quantity of the drug. Possession of cocaine or heroin are felony offenses punishable by several years to several decades in prison. The greater the quantity of the substances allegedly in your possession, the harsher the penalties. Second or subsequent offenses and cases involving certain aggravating factors such as possession near a school are penalized more heavily. Criminal charges for possession of an illicit substance have the potential to dramatically impact your life. If you have been arrested for possession of heroin or cocaine, it is crucial to assert your rights and build a strong defense against the drug possession charges.

Drugs Were Discovered During an Illegal Search and Seizure

Many drug-related arrests are the result of law enforcement officers searching an individual’s personal property. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens’ privacy and prohibits “unreasonable” search and seizure of property. Typically, to search a person or his or her property, a police officer must have:

  • Verbal consent from the property owner/occupier or the person being searched
  • A valid search warrant
  • A valid arrest warrant
  • “Probable cause” to believe that criminal activity is occurring

Police cannot simply stop and search someone without a valid reason for doing so. If evidence including drugs or drug paraphernalia is discovered by police during an unlawful search and seizure, that evidence may be inadmissible during any subsequent criminal proceedings. If key evidence in a criminal case was acquired through an unjustified search, the case may be dismissed entirely.

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IL defense lawyerAlthough a limited amount of recreational marijuana is legal in some states now, including Illinois, there are still many drugs that are considered illegal in the state. To combat the prevalence of drug use and its negative consequences, the Illinois Controlled Substances Act criminalizes the knowing possession, manufacture, and delivery of specific controlled substances. Under this law, certain dangerous drugs are categorized by Schedules. The possession of drugs like heroin or cocaine can carry significant penalties, such as a long time behind bars. In addition, if someone possesses certain drugs and intends to sell them, the punishments increase. A criminal conviction of this nature can impact an individual’s personal and professional life. That is why anyone facing such charges needs a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can provide quality legal representation to achieve a positive outcome.

Illinois Drug Schedules

According to Illinois law, controlled dangerous substances (CDS) are divided into five “schedules” based on factors, including their potential for abuse leading to addiction and if they are approved for medicinal purposes. Schedule I drugs are most likely to be abused and are not acceptable for medicinal use. Schedule V drugs are the least likely to be abused and are currently accepted for medical use. Examples of CDS for each schedule include but are not limited to the following drugs:

  • Schedule I: opiates, opium derivatives, hallucinogens
  • Schedule II: oxycodone, codeine, methamphetamine
  • Schedule III: buprenorphine, steroids, ketamine
  • Schedule IV: alprazolam, diazepam, tramadol
  • Schedule V: substances containing minimal amounts of narcotics

Penalties for CDS Possession

The criminal penalties for the possession of heroin, cocaine, morphine, LSD, and some hallucinogens are Class 1 felonies in Illinois. However, the penalties depend on the amount of the substance involved in the crime. For instance, the smaller amount, the less jail time as shown below:

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IL defense lawyerAlthough recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois this year, there are still many other drugs that are classified as illegal in the state. These include cocaine, LSD, heroin, Methamphetamines, and Ecstasy. In addition, owning or carrying certain drug paraphernalia can result in serious criminal charges. The consequences of a conviction can be severe, from fines to a lengthy prison sentence, not to mention a stain on your record. Many people may not know that simply having an item that is used to ingest or make a drug is a crime. If you or someone you know is facing any type of drug crime charge, it is essential to seek the legal guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What Is Paraphernalia?

In Illinois, the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act defines drug paraphernalia as any materials or equipment used in the illegal production, processing, packaging, storing, hiding, testing, or use of drugs. Materials that are used to manufacture Methamphetamine are also illegal, but they are covered under a separate statute.

The law specifically identifies certain items as drug paraphernalia including:

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