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Illinois expands legal use of recreational marijuana

Following a nationwide trend, Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. In late June, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to decriminalize the use of marijuana. The law goes into effect January 1, 2020.

As a result, marijuana will be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, with numerous rules applying to how residents can use it.

 Here are some of those restrictions:

  • Only residents ages 21 and over can buy recreational marijuana.
  • Adults legally can possess up to 30 grams (equal to what adults could hold in cupped hands) of marijuana or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of TCH (the chemical that leads to a marijuana high).
  • Municipalities and counties can ban cannabis businesses from their counties, but they can’t ban individual possession. Colleges and universities can continue to ban marijuana use.
  • Adults can’t use recreational marijuana on any public street, in any park, on school grounds (except medical marijuana users), in any motor vehicle, in a correctional facility or while driving a vehicle or boat, or flying a plane.
  • Adults can’t use recreational marijuana near someone under the age of 21.

The governor will be pardoning past marijuana possession convictions, up to 30 grams. And if you have a conviction of possessing 30 to 500 grams, you may be able to get the court to expunge your criminal record of that offense.

One concern that was not addressed in the legislation is how this new statute will affect the number of drivers charged with a DUI for drugged driving. Blood concentration for TCH use rises quickly and then falls, and marijuana can stay in the body for weeks. That makes it difficult to prove a driver was under the influence of pot while behind the wheel.

If you think you might be able to have your marijuana use or possession charge or conviction dismissed, consult an experienced criminal law attorney. Having a clean criminal record is valuable, as it makes getting a new job easier.

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