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Illinois to Decriminalize Cannabis, Expunge Convictions

weed next to gavel to indicate legalization of weed

On June 25, 2019, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed into law a bill that will legalize marijuana in Illinois. The bill will permit the licensed growth, sales, possession and consumption of cannabis for adults aged over 21 in the state. The law makes Illinois the 11th state to decriminalize marijuana for adults, although the Illinois law carries several unique qualities that may make it even more progressive than bills in other states. Read on for details about the new law and contact a seasoned Chicago criminal defense lawyer with any questions about how this law might affect your prior conviction or if you are facing drug charges in the state of Illinois.

Illinois law will legalize recreational marijuana

In May, Illinois lawmakers passed a bill that will legalize the recreational use, growth, possession and sale of marijuana in the state. Governor Pritzker has now signed the bill into law. While Illinois is not the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, it is the first state to do so legislatively rather than through a proposition via popular vote.

Under the new law, Illinois residents may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product such as edibles, and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Out-of-state visitors can possess half as much. In order to grow, process, or sell the product, Illinois residents must obtain a business license from the state. The only individuals permitted to grow marijuana plants at home are certified medical marijuana patients, who can grow up to five plants for personal use. The law provides for additional THC taxes that vary based on the THC concentration and type of cannabis product; these taxes will be applied on top of local sales taxes.

The new law is very progressive in a few ways: The law sets up a special fund to subsidize cannabis licensing fees and provide low-interest loans to minorities opening a cannabis business and creates a job-training program for the industry. The law also sets minimum distances between cannabis stores in order to avoid concentrating dispensaries in certain neighborhoods.

The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, although federal prosecutors have typically not prioritized investigations and arrests for marijuana possession or sale in states where the drug has been legalized.

Previous drug convictions will be expunged, current convicted citizens will be pardoned

The new Illinois law provides for the automatic expungement of previous convictions for marijuana possession in amounts under 30 grams. Governor Pritzker stated that he will personally pardon people currently charged with or serving sentences for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana. Individuals and prosecutors, moreover, can seek expungement of cases involving possession of up to 500 grams. Over 750,000 people in Illinois with minor cannabis possession convictions may benefit from the new law. The governor did specify that expungements and pardons are not available to those with a conviction for a violent crime.

If you’re facing criminal charges in Illinois, protect your future by seeking representation from skilled, dedicated, and compassionate Chicagoland criminal defense lawyers. Contact the Carol Stream offices of Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt for a consultation on your case at 630-665-9600.

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