State of Cannabis: Illinois

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Thisis provingto be a big year for cannabis. As a result, we are ranking the fifty states from worst to best on how they treat cannabis and those who consume it. Each of our State of Cannabis posts will analyze one state and our final post will crown the best state for cannabis. As is always the case, but particularly so with this series, we welcome your comments. We have finally crossed the half-way point. The states featured going forward generally have mixed laws when it comes to cannabis. Some good, some bad, and some ugly. Today we turn to number 22: Illinois.

Our previous rankings are as follows: 23. Minnesota; 24.New York; 25.Wisconsin; 26.Arizona; 27.West Virginia; 28.Indiana; 29.North Carolina; 30.Utah; 31.South Carolina; 32.Tennessee; 33.North Dakota; 34.Georgia; 35.Louisiana; 36.Mississippi; 37.Nebraska; 38.Missouri;39.Florida; 40.Arkansas; 41.Montana;42.Iowa; 43.Virginia; 44.Wyoming; 45.Texas; 46.Kansas; 47.Alabama; 48.Idaho; 49.Oklahoma; 50.South Dakota.

Illinois

Criminal Penalties.The possession of any amount of marijuana in Illinois can earn a fine and jail time. Illinois punishes marijuana possession as follows:

  • Less than 2.5 grams earns up to 30 days imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,500.
  • 2.5-10 grams earns up to 6 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,500.
  • 10-30 grams earns up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses earn a sentence of 1-6 years and a $25,000 fine.
  • 30-500 grams earns 1-6 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses earn a sentence of 2-10 years and a maximum fine of $25,000.
  • 500-2,000 grams earns 2-10 years of imprisonment and a maximum $25,000 fine.
  • 2,000-5,000 grams earns 3-14 years of imprisonment and a maximum $25,000 fine.
  • Over 5,000 grams earns 4-30 years imprisonment and a maximum $25,000 fine.

Illinois uses stricter measures in dealing with a person who manufactures, delivers, or possesses with the intent to manufacture or deliver. The manufacture or sale of marijuana is punished based on the amount of marijuana, per the below:

  • Less than2.5 grams or less of marijuana earns up to6 months of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,500.
  • 2.5 10 earns up to1 year of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,500.
  • 10 30 grams earns 1-6 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000.
  • 30 500 grams earns 2-10 years of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $50,000.
  • 500 2,000 gramsearns 3-14 years of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $100,000.
  • 2,000 5,000 grams earns 4-30 years of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $150,000.
  • Over5,000 grams earns a sentence of 6-60 years, and a maximum fine of $200,000.

Medical marijuana.Illinois legalized medical marijuana on August 1, 2013 when Governor Quinn signed theCompassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The program went into effect onJanuary 1, 2014. For a patient to legally obtain medical marijuana, they must meet certain criteria. Patients must be Illinois residents at the time of the application and they must have a qualifying debilitating medical condition. The list of conditions is fairly long, but does not include patients suffering from chronic pain. The patient must obtain a signed certification from a physician. Patients are required to submit to a fingerprint-based background check and must not have been convicted of a drug related felony. Only residents over the age of 18 are allowed medical marijuana. Active duty law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and firefighters are also excluded under Illinois law.

Illinois medical marijuana program has been met with a fair amount of criticism. In January, we expressed some of our concerns with the program:

[T]he major problem with Illinois medical cannabis program is that its list of qualifying conditions does not include chronic pain, which is what qualifiesthe vast majority of card holders in medical cannabis states. When ...

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