Illinois Possession of Cannabis

The Law – 720 ILCS 550/4

It is unlawful for any person knowingly to possess Cannabis.

Success Story:

Despite the fact that the term “possession” is wide-ranging, we have won numerous trials on behalf of our clients on this issue. Additionally, we have been successful in obtaining a dismissal of these charges for our clients due to the Court finding that the police conducted an unlawful search.

Although Illinois has joined a multitude of states that allow the medicinal use of cannabis (marijuana), its recreational possession, manufacturing or use is still illegal. The state has recognized that marijuana possession and use is still very common and relatively less dangerous then the possession or use of controlled substances (cocaine, heroin, LSD etc.). As a result, possession of small amounts of cannabis, although still a crime, is charged as a misdemeanor. However, when the amount that is possessed is increased, the punishment increases as well. Simply possessing a large amount (as discussed below) can expose an individual to several years in prison. This is true even when there is no delivery or intent to deliver the large quantity. Although the recent wave of legalizing and taxing the recreational use of marijuana is spreading throughout the country, Illinois lawmakers have still chosen to ban any non-medicinal use or possession of cannabis and have attempted to deter its non-medicinal use with stiff penalties. Additionally, at certain amounts, if it is someone’s second or subsequent offense, the sentence can increase based on a prior violation of the law.

As discussed in Possession of a Controlled Substance, the term “possession” is broad and far reaching. One need not to be in actual, physical possession of cannabis in order to be convicted. For instance, if cannabis is found in a vehicle carrying multiple individuals, all individuals can be charged with Possession of Cannabis. This would be done under a theory of “constructive” and “joint” possession. Constructive possession would entail an individual violating the law banning possessing cannabis without having actual, physical possession of the cannabis so long as that person knew, or should have known, of the presence of cannabis and had control or dominion over the cannabis. Joint possession would mean that more than one individual had possession of the cannabis, through constructive possession.

AMOUNT

SENTENCE

PRISON TERM

MAXIMUM FINE

2.5 grams or less

Class C Misdemeanor

Up to 30 days in county jail

Up to $1,500

2.6 to 10 grams

Class B Misdemeanor

Up to 180 days in county jail

Up to $1,500

10.1 to 30 grams

Class A Misdemeanor (Class 4 Felony for any subsequent violation)

Up to 364 days in county jail

(Up to 3 years in state prison for subsequent violations)

Up to $2,500

(Up to $25,000 for subsequent violations)

30.1 to 500 grams

Class 4 Felony

(Class 3 Felony for any subsequent violation)

Up to 3 years in state prison

(2 to 5 years for  subsequent violations)

Up to $25,000

(Up to $25,000 for subsequent violations)

500.1 to 2,000 grams

Class 3 Felony

(Class 2 Felony for any subsequent violation)

2 to 5 years in state prison

(3 to 7 years for subsequent violations)

Up to $25,000

(Up to $25,000 for subsequent violations)

2000.1 to 5,000 grams

Class 2 Felony

3 to 7 years in state prison

Up to $25,000

5,000.1 grams or more

Class 1 Felony

4 to 15 years in state prison

Up to $25,000

 

Probation Possible? – Yes, depending on charge.

Expungment/Sealing Eligible Probation - Yes, on certain offenses.

Supervision Possible? – Yes, on Misdemeanor charges.

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James A. Payonk, Jr.

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Orland Park, Illinois 60467

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