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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

IL defense lawyerEven as the status of some types of drugs, such as cannabis, has changed with advances in medical science, possession, and use of most street drugs remains a serious crime. Illinois, in particular, has raised the sentences for drug possession and distribution in recent years, which means that if you find yourself charged with such an offense, it can mean serious penalties upon conviction.

The Elements Are Clear

There are three major elements to a charge of drug possession in Illinois. Possession can be charged if one is caught with either the listed drug or a controlled substance analog, which has a chemical composition similar to any listed controlled substance (such as certain designer drugs, for example). The elements are: 1) establishing the substance in question as controlled; 2) showing the defendant knowingly possessed that substance; and 3) the substance was in that person’s possession (either actual or constructive possession qualifies).

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Posted on in Drug Crimes

IL defense lawyerThere is quite a lot of misinformation making the rounds regarding marijuana possession in Illinois. Medical marijuana is legal for certain specific conditions, and possession of small amounts has been decriminalized. However, possession of large amounts, as well as distribution or intent to distribute, are still very much criminal offenses, and if you are charged with one of these crimes, it can create significant problems for you.

Drug Possession Charges

Illinois’ Cannabis Control Act, though modified in 2016 to accommodate the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (granting medical marijuana options to qualifying patients with significantly severe medical conditions), still allows stiff sentences for those caught with high enough amounts of marijuana or any of its derivatives. The general public policy of the state of Illinois is still to hold cannabis as a largely dangerous drug, and to that end, possession of large amounts is policed because of the deleterious potential harm to society as a whole.

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New law, Illinois Law, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyIllinois lawmakers have been busy this legislation session, with the passage of many bills affecting the state’s criminal statutes. Almost a half dozen of these bills now await the governor’s signature, which will make them official laws. Several of those bills specifically address drug and drunk driving offenses.

Marijuana Charges

House Bill 218 amends the Illinois Cannabis Control Act, essentially making the possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana a petty offense, similar to a speeding ticket. The fine for possession can be up to $125 and expungment of the offense off a person’s record after six months. The Illinois Department of Corrections estimates that this new law will save the state approximately $30 million. The new law also establishes a threshold level for anyone who is arrested driving under the influence of marijuana.

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possession, drug crimes, Oakbrook criminal defense attorneyThe Cook County state's attorney recently announced that her office will no longer prosecute the majority of misdemeanor marijuana charges and will instead recommend nonviolent offenders who are charged with low-level felony possession of cannabis, cocaine, Ecstasy, and heroin be enrolled in drug treatment programs.

Currently, a person who is charged with a Class 4 felony possession faces either one to three years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both. The state attorney said in her announcement that instead of facing criminal charges, an alternative prosecution program will be created to help keep drug addicts out of the criminal justice system and, instead, get them into rehabilitation programs. By treating chronic drug addiction has a public health issue – instead of a criminal one – prosecutors hope to help alleviate the overcrowding of the Cook County court system.

The Cook County courts have been bogged down for years, dealing with these low-level drug possession cases. Statistics from the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that in 2010, there were 33,000 people arrested in the county for possession of marijuana. This comes out to 91 arrests per day.

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marijuanaRegardless of what side of the political debate you find yourself on, both 2013 and 2014 were big years for marijuana users throughout the country. With Washington, Colorado, and Washington D.C. legalizing recreational marijuana use, and many more states, including Illinois, ratifying laws allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes, many people think legalizing marijuana in our state is the next logical step.

Drug crimes offenses are still serious charges that can have lasting effects on your life and should be taken seriously, even though Illinois recently implemented the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, which is intended to help distributors and dispensaries ensure safety and compliance. With a new governor in place, patients utilizing medicinal marijuana are hoping to get the ball rolling; many have been waiting since the law was passed in 2013 for some relief.

Drugs are Still Illegal

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