Although the state of Illinois has already decriminalized the use of marijuana for recreational use, and has made legal the use of marijuana for medical purpose, it still sets various limitations to the use, possession, and distribution of marijuana within the state. The decriminalization process started in Chicago when the Chicago City Council voted “yes” to reduce to the criminal offense to civil infraction for possession of a small amount of cannabis. On the 29 of July, 2016, the state legislature followed suit when the Governor approved the Senate Bill 2228.
This bill reduced the punishment for possessing of under ten grams of marijuana for personal use to a fine of $100 to $200 as opposed to the previous offense of misdemeanor. Hence, you can now use marijuana for personal use in Illinois provided you follow the state statutes on marijuana use.
Illinois Medical Marijuana Laws
The medical use of marijuana in Illinois has been legal since the passing of the Compassionate Act by the Illinois General Assembly in 2013. This law, although filled with restrictions, basically allows qualifying patients to use marijuana for medical purpose as long as it is recommended by a qualified physician. The qualifying patients are likewise required to apply for a medical ID card that would make it legit for them to consume medical marijuana. The said law also lists around 30 specific medical maladies or conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment. Moreover, the Senate Bill 2636 amended the previous act allowing those who are under 18 with qualifying medical conditions to be treated with non-smoke marijuana forms. Seizures and epilepsy were added to the list of qualified medical conditions likewise.
The Drug Possession Laws of Illinois
Yet despite the decriminalization of possession of small amount of marijuana and the legalization of marijuana for medical purpose, there are still some standing penalties for possessions of large amount of marijuana that are not sanctioned by the state. Hence, if ever you are living in Illinois, you should at least be knowledgeable of these laws so that you would not run afoul of the existing laws. Here the offense penalties concomitant with the possession of large amount of marijuana in Illinois:
- If you are caught with 10g of marijuana or less, you will only be slapped with civil violation, no incarceration, and fine of up to $200.
- For more than 10 g up to 30 g, you will be charged with misdemeanor, one year of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $2,000. For subsequent offense of the same nature, you will be charged with felony, 1 to 6 years of imprisonment, and maximum fine of $25,000.
- If you are caught with 30 to 500 grams for the first time, you will be charged with felony, plus 1 to 6 years of imprisonment, and up to $25,000 maximum fine. Subsequent offense of this nature entails a felony, plus 2 to 10 years of imprisonment, and $25,000 maximum fine.
- If you are caught with 500 g to 2 kg, you will be slapped with felony, 2 to 10 years of imprisonment, and $25,000 maximum fine.
- If you are caught with 2 kg to 5 kg, your offense is felony, plus 3 to 14 years of imprisonment, and $25,000 maximum fine.
- Lastly, if you are caught with more than 5 kg, you will be slapped with felony, plus 4 to 30 years of imprisonment, and $25,000 maximum fine.
The sale, trafficking, and cultivation of marijuana likewise have their accompanying penalties. The minimum penalties for sale and trafficking is misdemeanor, 6 months of imprisonment, and $1,500 maximum fine. However, the maximum charge that you can incur for sale and trafficking would one count of felony, if you are caught selling 5 kg of marijuana, for example, with the accompanying penalties of 6 to 60 years of imprisonment, and up to $200,000 maximum fine. Stiff penalties and punishments also await those who would be caught cultivating marijuana. Moreover, your violations will be further aggravated with additional counts of felony and penalties if you are caught selling to minors, or selling within certain specified areas like within the school grounds.
Can Employers Require their Employees and Applicants to Undergo Drug Tests?
The state of Illinois encourages employers to support the drug-free workplace program of the Federal Government and state, and the state provides incentives to employers that would support this program. The drug tests laws of Illinois likewise are highly specific. Based on these laws, all employers can require pre-employment drug tests to prospective applicants after a conditional job was offered to the applicant. Employers however are required to comply with the statutory conditions set by the state on drug tests in workplace such as:
- Publishing a written notification of the policies on drug-free workplace.
- Establishing programs about the detrimental effects of drugs.
- Providing a copy of the policy to every employee and posting a copy of these policy on highly visible areas within the premises of the companies.
- Providing a statement of sanctions to those who test positive.
- Providing alternative options of treatment, rehabilitation, and counseling