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Illinois Makes Sweeping Changes to Marijuana Laws That Impacts People with Convictions Concerning Marijuana Charges

If you or a loved one was arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana in Illinois, you may be able to have that conviction expunged from your record.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 1438, which makes cannabis legal in the state of Illinois for individuals age 21 and older. In addition to legalizing marijuana, the state government passed a sweeping set of criminal justice reforms intended to assist those whose lives were impacted by the state’s drug laws.

CNN reported that, in addition to legalizing marijuana, the 610-page bill offers relief to nearly 770,000 Illinois residents with marijuana-related offenses on their criminal records.

Illinois Liberalizes Cannabis Laws

Illinois is now the eleventh state in the U.S. to legalize the use of recreational marijuana and is the latest state to offer clemency for past marijuana convictions.

Overview of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Gov. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law. However, it is important to note that it does not go into effect until 2020. Once it is fully active, the law allows an individual to automatically receive clemency for a prior conviction of cannabis possession, if the possession involved 30 grams of cannabis or less. If you were convicted with larger amounts of cannabis will have to petition a court to have the charge expunged.

According to the new law, expunge is defined as physically destroying the arrest and conviction records or returning them to the petitioner and removing the petitioner’s name from any official index or public record, or both. However, the new law does not require the physical destruction of circuit court files concerning a cannabis case.

Social Equity Program Provides Financial Assistance for Cannabis Businesses

In addition to an expungement program, the new law includes a “social equity program” that makes it easier for individuals with marijuana convictions to obtain business licenses. This social equity program allocates $12 million for startup businesses related to cannabis, as well as provide funds for job training programs in the state’s cannabis industry, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

The Department of Agriculture in Illinois, along with the state’s community college board, are also creating pilot programs to get individuals ready to work in this newly legalized cannabis industry, and the state will require them to focus on enrolling the low-income students into those programs, according to the aforementioned CNN article.

Current Marijuana Laws Remain in Effect

As mentioned, the sweeping new law does not go into full effect until 2020. This means that possessing marijuana is still against the law in Illinois. Penalties for marijuana possession vary depending on the amount in possession and whether this is your first drug offense or you have prior convictions.

If this is a first offense, being convicted for possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana is considered a civil violation punishable by a fine of no more than $100. If you are convicted of possessing a higher amount, you could be sentenced to jail time. For example, if you had between 10-30 grams, you could be ordered to serve up to one year in jail and pay a $2,500 fine.

For subsequent marijuana possession offenses in Illinois, possession of between 10-30 grams escalates to a Class 4 Felony. Possession of 30-500 grams escalates to a Class 3 felony.

Charged with Possession of Marijuana? Speak to a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one are facing a drug crime charge in Chicago, including a marijuana possession charge, the most important decision you can make is contacting an experienced drug crime defense lawyer. Take action today by speaking with Vadim A. Glozman.

He is an aggressive and experienced Chicago drug crime defense lawyer who is fully capable of representing clients facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges.

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Vadim A. Glozman
53 West Jackson Blvd., Ste 1410B
Chicago, IL 60604