If Marijuana is Legalized in Illinois, What Happens to Prior Convictions?
Illinois may soon join the growing number of states that are legalizing not only medical, but recreational marijuana. Once pot is legal, it raises the question as to what will happen to people who are currently incarcerated on cannabis-related charges and to those who have felony pot convictions.
With cultivation, trafficking, sale, or possession of marijuana considered as a crime in Illinois under the state’s Controlled Substances Act, even people who were caught with possessing pot for their own use can wind up with a criminal record that will affect employment and educational opportunities, limit the ability to get decent housing, damage security clearance access and opportunities for professional and certain occupational licensing, and ruin family relationships for the rest of their lives.
Due to the seriousness and complexity of criminal law, anyone charged with marijuana or other drug offenses needs top-notch legal assistance. The experienced Illinois drug crime defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and requirements. We will work with you to mount the most effective defense possible. We offer a free consultation, so contact us online or call our offices today for help if you have been accused of any drug charges.
What are the Marijuana Laws in Illinois?
Illinois penalties for pot possession increase, based on the quantity of the drug, as follows:
- 5 grams or less (Class C Misdemeanor):Maximum thirty days in jail and/or fine up to $1,500
- 5 to 10 grams (Class B Misdemeanor):Maximum 180 days in jail and/or fine up to $1,500
- More than 10 but less than 30 grams (Class A Misdemeanor):Up to 12 months in jail and/or fine up to $2,500
- Over 30 grams to 500 grams (Class 4 Felony):1- to 3-year term in state prison and/or maximum fine of $25,000
- Over 500 but less than 2,000 grams (Class 3 Felony):2 to 5 years in state penitentiary and/or fine up to $25,000
- Over 2,000 but less than 5,000 grams (Class 2 Felony):3- to 7-year term of incarceration in prison and/or fine up to $25,000
- Above 5,000 grams (Class 1 Felony):4- to 15-year term in state prison and/or fine up to $25,000.
In Illinois, if you have had a drug conviction for possession, whether felony or misdemeanor, you cannot obtain any government student aid, loans, or grants for one year after a first conviction for possession; for two years after a second conviction; and for an indefinite amount of time after a third conviction. If the conviction was for a drug sale, you cannot obtain any government student aid, loans, or grants for two years after first conviction and for an indefinite amount of time after a second conviction.
Other possible consequences and penalties for marijuana convictions include:
- Community service
- Drug classes
- Public record of a misdemeanor or felony conviction
- Loss of certain constitutional rights for felony convictions, including voting, gun ownership, and jury duty.
In addition, the penalties for possession with intent or distribution can result in lengthy terms in the state penitentiary even if intended for your personal use.
Suggestions When Marijuana is Legal
Once marijuana is legal, it makes no sense for people who have not committed violent crimes but were convicted for possession, or even for dealing small amounts of marijuana, to remain in prison or to have criminal records and penalties that negatively affect their lives.
The following are suggestions that have been made for legislation as to what to do with convicted individuals who are imprisoned or have criminal records:
- Release from prison – Anyone imprisoned for crimes from small level dealing up to Class 4 felonies should be released.
- Expungement — Criminal records for current and prior marijuana convictions should be expunged (removed).
- Increase job opportunities – Allow employment in the cannabis industry. Employment bans often affect people of color, who are disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests and the criminal justice system. As a result, legislation would encourage preference for minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned cannabis businesses, and create additional license categories to allow more employment opportunities.
- Allocate some of the revenue from marijuana taxes toward neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.
If you have been charged with marijuana or any other drug crimes in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find. The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available in every situation. We work with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy and determine whether to take a case to trial. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties, rights, and your ability to find employment.
We are aggressive litigators and will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us online or call our offices today to schedule your free initial consultation.