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Marijuana Laws and Policies in Illinois

Today, there are quite a number of US states that have already achieved the legalization of medical and adult-use cannabis within their borders. One of these states, Illinois, has seen a very steep level of progression throughout recent years. As a place that went all in on cannabis and never really seemed to look back, the Land of Lincoln has tons to offer to cannabis lovers all around the world.

While it wasn’t exactly one of the first states to fully legalize medical cannabis, it is definitely one of the few that has resorted to making recreational and adult-use marijuana accessible to its citizens. So, how exactly has the cannabis scene held up in Illinois Just how accessible is marijuana over at the Prairie State Let’s find out!

History of Cannabis in Illinois

Cannabis in Illinois was widely considered an illegal substance that caused numerous adverse effects and negative psychoactive sensations. Because it was banned virtually throughout the whole world, Illinois decided to follow suit and ban it both state-wide and at a federal level along with the rest of the country.

In 1978, a policy named the Cannabis Control Act was implemented across the state of Illinois. This aimed to legalize the use of medical marijuana, making it the very first US state and territory to do so! However, after its subsequent approval, the following framework failed to follow. This bill was ultimately disregarded as a result of the lack of regulations and a plan to further distribute the supplies of medical marijuana to patients who were suffering from various conditions.

Things started taking a turn for the better in the year 2013. It was during this year that ex-governor Pat Quinn approved of a pending bill that detailed a feasible plan on fully legalizing medical cannabis in Illinois. The bill, which was called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, set to give medical patients an alternative form of treatment. Ever since 2014, a rough estimate of 143,000 total applicants have been utilizing the medical marijuana program offered by the state.

Legalization of recreational cannabis:

In 2019, the passing of the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act made it the very first US state to authorize the sale and distribution of recreational cannabis through state legislatures. Most of the other states achieved this through an initiative in a voter’s ballot during elections. The following year, recreational cannabis was officially made legal in Illinois, making the 11th overall US state to achieve the feat.

In addition to being able to possess and consume cannabis within the state’s area, a total of 700,000 cannabis-related criminal charges are expected to be annulled in the near future. Studies also show that around $40 million dollars has been generated each month since its legalization in January 2020.

Cannabis Regulation Body

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Program (MCPP) is primarily governed and regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH). Through them, all patients and caregivers are required to register and claim medical marijuana identification cards via a due process.

This allows users of medical cannabis to make legal use of marijuana at a patient’s capacity. Additionally, specialized physicians who recommend and prescribe medical marijuana are also regulated by the DPH.

On the other hand, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation mainly deals with the permitting and licensing of government-mandated dispensaries and marijuana distributors. Along with taxation, they are in charge of making sure that all medical and recreational dispensaries regularly comply with the needed requirements to legally operate.

Finally, the Illinois Department of Agriculture mainly licenses cultivators and growing centers across the state. All marijuana breeders in Illinois will have to register their businesses/names under this government body.

Medical Cannabis

Throughout the years, the state of Illinois had undergone numerous changes and amendments in order to bring its medical marijuana program where it is today. There are currently 55 active medical dispensaries scattered across the state, all of which have been able to generate a combined $790 million in medical sales combined.

After a lot of amendments such as the Senate Bill 2023, medical marijuana was now available to a wider range of conditions, including PTSD and terminal illnesses. This bill also allowed veterans to make use of the Opioid Alternative Program. Nurses and attending physicians are now able to recommend medical marijuana based on the experienced conditions of a patient.

The list of qualifying conditions for the medical marijuana program include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Arnold Chiari Malformation
  • Autism
  • Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)
  • Cancer and Developing Symptoms 
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  • Chronic Pain
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Type 2)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Dystonia
  • Ehler-Danlos Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella Syndrome
  • Neuro-Behcet’s Autoimmune Disease
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Residual Limb Pain
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Seizures
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Spinal Cord Disease
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
  • Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov Cysts
  • Terminal Illness
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Concussion Syndrome

Legal Age, Purchasing, and Possession of Cannabis

Legal age:

All caregivers must be at least 21 years of age in order to qualify as such. Adults must also be 21 years old or above in order to legally make use of recreational cannabis. This includes being able to possess, consume, and purchase.

Medical patients must be at least 18 years old in order to qualify for the medical marijuana program of the state. Additionally, patients who are under the age of 21 years old may not be allowed to purchase their medical supplies from dispensaries. This must instead be done by their parents or respective caregivers.

Purchasing locations and possession limits:

There are well over 55 medical dispensaries and 22 recreational distributors across the state of Illinois. All supplies must only be obtained from state-licensed dispensaries. Medical supplies of marijuana are subject to a 1% pharmaceutical tax while the retailers and cultivators of the supplies are subject to a 7% sales tax per ounce.

Recreational growers are subject to a 7% sales tax on their first sale. Subsequently, they pay a 10% tax on the sale of products with below 35% THC, 25% tax on products with more than 35% THC, and 20% tax on other cannabis infused products.

Adult use consumers are permitted to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis flowers, up to 0.5 grams of edibles, or 5 grams of cannabis extracts. Tourists and non-residents in Illinois have purchasing and possession limits that are equal to half of a resident’s allowed limit.

Medical patients, on the other hand, are allowed to purchase and carry what is classified as a “sufficient/adequate amount” for medical treatment. This is often considered to mean 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.

Consumption and Cultivation of Cannabis

Consumption limits:

Public consumption of cannabis in Illinois is strictly prohibited. You will find that there are currently no smoking areas in sidewalks or streets as well as the lack of cannabis cafes and smoking lounges that will usually allow on-site consumption.

Other places where cannabis use is strictly illegal are: while operating any vehicle, school zones (except those authorized by the administration), in other public places with large crowds. Offices, establishments, landlords, and schools may freely implement the ban of cannabis consumption within their areas.

Cannabis cultivation:

Cultivating marijuana seeds for recreational purposes is strictly prohibited in Illinois, except for licensed growers who supply dispensaries with marijuana products. Only medical patients and/or their respective caregivers are authorized to plant their own cannabis crops for supplies.

They are allowed to grow up to five (5) cannabis plants maximum in their households, regardless of the number of adults situated there.

From the bustling marijuana events to countless dispensaries around the state, you won’t find any shortage of cannabis in Illinois! The year 2020 has seen Illinois take a huge leap forward when the state department decided to finally legalize recreational cannabis. Now, there is undoubtedly a lot in store for anyone who is willing to take a trip over there for their amazing cannabis industry!