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Understanding Drug Charges with New Illinois LawsWhile the state of Illinois’ stance on recreational marijuana use drastically changed when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law last January, the state still has some strong policies against the use of marijuana. In reality, a serious drug charge can compromise one’s ability to land a good job, secure housing, or seek education advancement opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with a drug-related crime in the state of Illinois, it is time to speak with a criminal defense attorney you can believe in. 

Marijuana and Drug Charges in Illinois

Due to the new state law, an Illinois resident can legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower (marijuana). It is important to recognize that this does not mean that marijuana is legal with no contingencies. Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana still constitutes a misdemeanor charge and potentially up to one year in prison. Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana with intent to sell constitutes a felony charge and can possibly result in up to five years of jail time if convicted. It should also be noted that it is still considered an offense to smoke or consume marijuana on public property. 

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, police officers statewide have been ramping up the search for high drivers. Law enforcement officials are trained to look for signs of intoxication such as the odor associated with marijuana, bloodshot eyes, and signs of cognitive impairment. If convicted, a marijuana DUI charge constitutes a Class A misdemeanor, fines up to $2,500, and a one-year license revocation period. 

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Examining Charges for Illegal Drug Possession in Illinois With the passing of Illinois’ new marijuana law, it is now legal for people to recreationally consume marijuana within the state. While the law may have changed the way in which law enforcement officials look at marijuana use, that is not the case with substances such as cocaine, heroin, and various schedule two drugs. If you have been charged with possession of illegal narcotics, you could be facing serious legal ramifications. 

The Legal Consequences

Thousands of drug arrests are made throughout the state of Illinois each year and come with significant criminal punishment. According to the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, possession of an illegal narcotic like heroin or cocaine constitutes a felony charge. The severity of the charges will vary based on the amount of the substance the person has in their possession. For instance, if a person is apprehended with less than 15 grams of cocaine, they will face Class 4 felony charges, fines up to $25,000 and one to three years in prison. If they have more than 15 grams in their possession, prosecutors may conclude that they were attempting to distribute and sell the narcotics. This charge constitutes a Class 1 felony and a mandatory four-year prison sentence. 

It should be noted that if an officer believes that the person is attempting to sell the substance, the charge will be more severe than a possession charge, regardless of the amount of the substance. If a person has the intent to sell, even with less than one gram of cocaine, they will face Class 2 felony charges and no less than three years in prison. Drug charges for other substances such as heroin and morphine mirror the charges that come with cocaine possession and distribution. 

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