Legalization of Recreational Cannabis in Illinois 2020

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Starting on January 1, 2020, Illinois will become the 11th state in the country to legalize recreational cannabis.  HB 1438 was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker in June of this year.  The new law will regulate cannabis similar to how alcohol is regulated.  Adults over 21 may purchase marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries, however, the possession and use of cannabis will be more restrictive than alcohol.  The new law will put restrictions on how much cannabis may be possessed, where it can be consumed, and how it may be transported. 

The new legislation does not affect the driving under the influence laws concerning cannabis, and it will still be against the law to be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.  Police departments are currently working to retrain their officers to perform field sobriety tests that can be used to determine if a driver is impaired by cannabis.  Additionally, there are new technologies coming to market that will function similar to a breathalyzer to determine cannabis levels in bodily substances. 

The new law will also restrict a peace officer’s ability to search a vehicle based on the odor of raw cannabis.  The current law allows a police officer to search a vehicle if he has a reasonable belief that the vehicle contains marijuana.  Under the new law, the smell of raw cannabis will not be considered evidence to establish probable cause to search a vehicle.  Because of this, all current drug detection K9s will become retired by the new year and new K9s, that will not alert on the odor of cannabis, will have to be trained. 

Cannabis regulated similar to Alcohol

  • Must be 21 years old to purchase – selling to minors will be a criminal offense
  • Driving under the influence of cannabis will STILL be illegal
  • Cannabis purchased in state must be tested and labelled

Possession Limits for Illinois Residents over 21

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower
  • 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • The possession limits are to be considered cumulative
  • Non-Illinois Residence may possess half the limits listed above

Cannabis may be possessed

  • In a vehicle in a reasonably secured, sealed container and reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving

Cannabis may NOT be possessed

  • At a school
  • On a school bus
  • Correctional facility
  • Private residence used for childcare or other social services

Use of Cannabis is prohibited:

  • In a motor vehicle
  • In any public place
  • In close proximity to anyone under 21

Public Place

  • Any place where a person could reasonably be expected to be observed by others. “Public place” includes all parts of buildings owned in whole or in part, or leased, by the State or a unit of local government.
  • Does not include a private residence unless the private residence is used to provide licensed childcare.

It is illegal to be in “Actual Physical Control” of a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis including:

  • Motor Vehicle
  • Aircraft
  • Motor Boat
  • Snowmobile

DUI Limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

  • 5 nanograms of THC in whole blood
  • 10 nanograms of THC in any other bodily substance

If a person under 21 tries to purchase cannabis

  • Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
  • Suspension of driver’s license

Written By: Attorney Jonathan James

Rockford Criminal Defense Attorney

Posted in: Drug Crimes, DUI

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