Is marijuana legal in Illinois?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal under state law for adults 21+.
Marijuana and its extracted forms are all legal for recreational and medical use. The recreational system opened for business for adults 21 and older on January 1, 2020. Hemp is also legal.
Legalization does not exempt consumers, and those in unlawful possession, cultivation, distribution or driving under the influence of marijuana.
On December 31, 2019, Gov. Pritzker pardoned over 11,000 cannabis-related arrests on the eve of legalization. Under the new legislation, upward of 700,000 residents convicted of possession could have their records expunged.
Illinois has other measures in the works to expand on existing legislation, including establishing an equity program for victims of the war on drugs to enter the industry.
Delivery service is currently prohibited, though legislation has been brought to the House. There are also parameters on how and where brands can advertise online and in public spaces, including specific distances from schools and the use of images of cannabis.
Find a dispensary in Illinois
Use Leafly Finder to find dispensaries near you in Illinois.
Illinois recreational marijuana laws
Prior to recreational legalization, possessing 10 grams or less of cannabis was a civil violation with no jail time or fine. Now, adult residents can possess up to 30g of cannabis, 5g of cannabis concentrate, and 500mg of infused products like edibles.
For non-resident adults, the limits are half.
Cultivating up to five plants for medical use by a registered medical patient is now allowed as of January 1, 2020; rec users who grow up to five plants won’t be charged with a criminal offense but will be fined $200.
- Possession over the above limits can result in charges of a Class A Misdemeanor, with up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
- Possession of more than 100g (~3.5oz) is a Class 4 felony, a $25,000 fine, and between one and three years in jail.
- Subsequent offenses and possession of higher quantities have higher penalties, more jail time, and worse fines.
- Penalties for possession of hash or other cannabis concentrates are the same as for flower.
The sale or trafficking of cannabis or cannabis products is illegal, and punishable as either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor if under 10g with up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,500. Larger quantities warrant felony offenses, more jail time, and higher fines.
Cultivating more than five plants is at least a Class 4 Felony, resulting in 1-3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. Possession of marijuana paraphernalia with small amounts of marijuana (<10g) will only result in a civil violation, but 10g+ is a Class A misdemeanor. The sale of paraphernalia is a Class 4 felony, but can increase if the buyer is a minor or a pregnant woman.
Illinois recreational marijuana bills
Illinois’ recreational cannabis program began January 1, 2020, as dictated by the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act/HB1438 which was signed in 2019. Illinois is the first state to legalize recreational cannabis directly through state legislation signed by the Governor and not in the hands of voters. This is a departure from states like California and Colorado, where bills like Proposition 64 were ballot measures.
Rep. Sonya M Harper introduced a bill in March 2020 to legalize home delivery in the state.
Illinois medical marijuana laws
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act to create a medical marijuana system was signed by Gov. Quinn back in 2013, and took effect January 1, 2014.
This has been amended to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act as it is no longer a pilot program. This legalized the cultivation, manufacturing, sale, and possession of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products, like edibles, oils, and topicals to qualifying patients.
The Illinois General Assembly passed SB2228 in 2016 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis (10 grams or less) as well as paraphernalia statewide, punishable as a civil law violation with a fine.
For medical cardholders, they may legally possess up to 2.5 oz of cannabis within any given two-week period.
Illinois medical marijuana bills
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act is now a permanent program and no longer considered a pilot. The bill addresses how to create a permitting process for cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and dispensary facilities. It outlines possession limits and qualifying conditions, as well as protection from the law.
Illinois qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Medical patients with qualifying conditions have been able to access medicinal cannabis and derived products since 2014. Currently, these are the qualifying conditions:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Anorexia nervosa
- Any medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care
- Arnold Chiari malformation
- Cachexia/wasting syndrome
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
- Chronic pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome type 2
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Fibrous dysplasia
- Hepatitis C
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Nail patella syndrome
- Neuro-Behcet’s autoimmune disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Spinal cord disease
- Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
- Superior canal dehiscence syndrome
- Tarlov cysts
- Tourette syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
How to get a medical marijuana card in Illinois
Adults 21 and up can now legally purchase cannabis without a medical card, but if you do want one, the process is simple:
- Patients should determine if their condition qualifies them for medical marijuana. A list of qualifying conditions can be found on the Illinois Department of Health website, or patients can discuss with their primary care doctors.
- If they qualify, patients must meet with their physician, with whom they have a history, to discuss their application. Physicians must fill out a Physician Written Certification to be submitted with a patient’s application, residency, and ID information, which includes an in-person visit and recent assessment of the patient’s medical history.
- Patients can elect to pay for a 1-year, 2-year or 3-year registry identification card, though they must renew their actual medical marijuana card annually.
- Turnaround from approval of application to receiving the card is typically 90 days.
- If approved, patients must also register individually with a medical dispensary in Illinois to acquire their medicine.
Does Illinois accept out of state medical cards?
No, Illinois does not honor out-of-state medical cards, but adults 21 and up with ID can come from out of state and purchase recreationally.
When does my Illinois medical card expire?
When patients apply for their medical card, they have the option of paying for a 1-year, 2-year or 3-year card to be a part of the medical marijuana registry, but they must renew their card to purchase medical marijuana every year.
Illinois marijuana growing laws
Only permitted cultivation centers can grow cannabis to be produced and sold in the medical and recreational markets.
As of 2020, medical cardholders may grow up to 5 plants for personal use as long as the crop is out of sight, in a locked facility and being grown with permission from the property owner.
Cultivation without a medical card is illegal.
Illinois public consumption laws
Illinois does not have cannabis consumption lounges, and legal consumption is limited to the home. It is illegal to consume in public places, on or near school property, and in a motor vehicle.
Illinois cannabis DUI laws
Legalization does not exempt users from penalization when they are going against the law. As in the rest of the world, driving while under the influence is illegal, and in Illinois this is defined as “operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs, including cannabis (marijuana) prescribed for medical purposes, or intoxicating compounds and methamphetamine.”
Illinois has “per se” laws in place for alcohol and other controlled substances, including cannabis. This means a chemical test result of 0.08%+ BAC or more than 5ng/ml of THC in the bloodstream is sufficient evidence of intoxication. Illinois residents who operate a motor vehicle by law give “implied consent” to a chemical test for intoxication. Refusing will result in driving revocation.
- First offense: Class A misdemeanor and carries a year of driving revocations; if BAC exceeds 0.16%, there is a mandatory 2 day jail sentence, a mandatory minimum fine of $500, and 100 hours of community service.
- Second offense in 20 years: Misdemeanor with mandatory minimum of five days (up to one year) imprisonment, 240 hours of community service, up to $2,500 fine, and a minimum five-year suspended license.
- Third offense: Class 2 felony with mandatory 18-30 month imprisonment, extending up to seven years, and a maximum fine of $25,000.
Illinois cannabis testing regulations
Illinois has provisions for cannabis and cannabis product testing in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act.
Before the packaging, extraction or manufacturing of any cannabis or product, it must be batch-tested in an independent lab for microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, pesticide active ingredients, residual solvents, and an overall analysis. Any batch that fails testing will be recalled.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Illinois
When did Illinois legalize?
The state legalized possession and access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients in 2014. Recreational cannabis became legal and accessible to buy January 1, 2020.
Are dabs legal in Illinois?
Yes, thank goodness. Cannabis concentrates like live resin can be purchased at recreational dispensaries.
How many recreational dispensaries are in Illinois?
Many are open as well as in the process of getting permitted. As many as 295 could be operational by 2022.
Are drugs legal in Illinois?
Of course not! While cannabis is legal to buy and possess in small amounts for adults, this does not apply to any other controlled substances. Similarly, there are still many facets of the cannabis illicit market that are illegal.
Are dispensaries still open during the pandemic?
Yes, both recreational and medical dispensaries are operational during shelter-in-place orders. Delivery is still currently prohibited but many stores offer curbside pickup.
Keep up with the latest news about legalization in Illinois
Stay current on Illinois’ fast-changing laws by bookmarking Leafly politics and signing up for our newsletter.
Post last updated Sept. 5, 2020