Medical marijuana program in Illinois gets underway

While medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, marijuana possession for recreational purposes is still illegal.

Illinois has taken one of the first steps toward allowing its residents suffering from serious medical conditions to use medicinal marijuana to treat their symptoms. Recently, the Illinois Department of Public Health began the process of approving applicants to use marijuana for medicinal purposes legally in the state.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, over 2,000 people applied to use medical marijuana legally in Illinois in the few days after the state began accepting applications. Thus far, around 12 acceptance letters have been mailed, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health.

Once individuals have been accepted into the medical marijuana program, they will be given a registration card. The card will allow them to purchase marijuana at a dispensary. So far, businesses are in the process of applying to operate both cultivation centers and dispensaries in Illinois.

Fighting charges of marijuana possession in Illinois

While medical marijuana has been legalized in Illinois, it is still illegal to possess marijuana for recreational purposes. The penalties associated with a marijuana possession conviction vary, depending on the number of prior offenses for which the individual has been convicted and the amount of the drug found in his or her possession.

For instance, those found with 2.5 grams of marijuana or less in Illinois can face misdemeanor charges. If convicted, the person charged with marijuana possession could face up to 30 days in jail. The potential jail sentence increases to up to six months if the individual was in possession of between 2.5 and 10 grams of marijuana.

Misdemeanor charges can also stem from an individual being found with between 10 and 30 grams of marijuana, if he or she has no prior offenses. Upon a conviction, the potential penalties include up to one year in jail. Those found with between 10 and 30 grams of marijuana who have prior convictions could face felony charges in Illinois. Upon conviction, a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail is imposed, with the possibility of a jail sentence of up to three years. In addition, individuals may be fined up to $25,000.

The most severe penalties are imposed on those charged with possessing more than 5,000 grams of marijuana. In such cases, a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in jail is imposed - although the individual may be jailed for up to 20 years.

When someone is charged with marijuana possession in Illinois, it is important to take the charges seriously and seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A legal professional will work for you to establish a strong defense.

Keywords: Illinois, marijuana, possession