Illinois Drug Laws in 2021

What You Should Know About Illinois Drug Laws in 2019

What You Need to Know About Illinois Drug Laws in 2021

Attitudes toward drugs are changing throughout the country, and many people believe that the “war on drugs,” which threw so many non-violent offenders into jail, has created more problems than it solves. Still, anyone charged with a drug crime in Illinois faces major penalties, including fines, a criminal record, and jail time. Unlawful possession of a controlled substance is a felony criminal offense under Illinois law, with strict penalties set out in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/1 et seq).

The Illinois Controlled Substances Act schedules substances as either Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV. A Schedule I controlled substance is a substance that: 1) has high potential for abuse; and 2) has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision. (720 ILCS 570/203.) Schedules II, III, and IV are considered to have medical value, but still have a high potential for abuse.

Schedule I controlled substances are:

  • cocaine
  • methamphetamine
  • heroin
  • ecstasy
  • psychedelic mushrooms
  • LSD
  • peyote.

Generally, all recreational drugs or “street drugs” are considered Schedule I controlled substances.

Due to the seriousness of penalties and complexity of the laws, it is essential to get top-notch legal assistance if you are charged with any drug crimes.  The experienced Illinois drug charges lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and requirements.  We know the tactics that over-zealous prosecutors can use when it comes to drug charges, and we know how to combat them. Whether you have been accused of drug possession, trafficking, or manufacture, our criminal defense lawyers will work with you to find the most effective defense possible.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the individual circumstances of your case and determine the best way to proceed. Call our offices today at 630-305-0222.

Defelonization Failed Again in 2021

Our drug charges defense attorneys know the benefits decriminalization would bring.

There is a growing belief that people with drug problems do not benefit from being under the criminal legal system control while they attempt to recover from addiction. As a result, in recent years (including 2021), bills have been introduced in the legislature to decriminalize low-level drug possession and to have courts retroactively reduce sentences or designate prior convictions as misdemeanors.

Unfortunately, Illinois has a history of having these bills fail to come into law.

In 2019, proponents of decriminalization, including the ACLU of Illinois and other civil rights groups, sought through House Bill 2291 to quantify thresholds for possessing various substances that would result in misdemeanor charges rather than felonies. They also sought to establish diversion programs to direct people with substance use disorders to community-based treatment centers instead of prisons.

Under the bill, possession of less than 3 grams of heroin would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of less than one year. This would be instead of a Class 4 felony, which carries a one- to four-year prison sentence.

Other offenses that would have become misdemeanors under the bill included possession of less than 5 grams of cocaine; less than five pills of most Schedule III substances, such as Xanax and Valium; or less than 40 pills of oxycodone or similar painkillers.

The bill also would have reclassified some low-level drug dealing offenses as Class 4 felonies instead of Class 3.

This bill passed the house, but not the Senate.

Attempts at decriminalization in 2021

In 2021, state representatives passed a proposal, House Bill 3447, to help people struggling with drug addiction receive community drug treatment instead of putting them in jail. The measure would have:

  • lowered penalties for low-level possession from a felony to a Class A misdemeanor, and
  • allowed for expungement of minor drug records and retroactive resentencing.

This “defelonization” bill failed to pass in the Illinois General Assembly.

Beneficial Illinois Drug Laws in 2020

Changing attitudes toward marijuana have led to decriminalization.

Fortunately, there have been some major changes in laws regarding marijuana use. On January 1, 2020, Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act legalized the cultivation, trafficking, sale, or possession of a small amount of marijuana. As a result of this act:

  • Illinois residents age 21 and over may now legally purchase up to one ounce of flower (dried herb) and up to five grams of cannabis concentrate (such as hashish or tincture).
  • The legal limit for cannabis-infused products, such as edibles or tinctures, is 500 milligrams of THC.
  • Visitors to Illinois are allowed half those amounts.
  • Eligible users of medical marijuana are allowed to grow up to five plants for medicinal use, but recreational users may not do so.
  • Marijuana may be consumed either at home or at certain approved establishments, but colleges, businesses, and landlords may refuse use on their properties.
  • Individuals convicted for marijuana-related offenses involving less than 30 grams and who committed no violent crimes are eligible for pardon after review by the Prisoner Review Board.
  • Those convicted for possession of 30 to 500 grams may petition for expungement.
  • Driving with THC blood concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter will be considered driving under the influence, even if not impaired.
  • A DUI Task Force led by Illinois State Police has been created to examine best practices for roadside testing.

Although marijuana has been legalized, violations of the new law are still taken seriously in Illinois, as are DUI and other drug-crime offenses. While it is no longer a crime to possess marijuana within legally established limits (410 ILCS 705/10-10), possession of a controlled substance is a felony offense, involving incarceration for one year or more.

Drug Charges Defense Attorneys Cite Other Recent Drug Law Changes in Illinois

There were some drug law changes in 2019 that affect drug charges and treatment.

Changes and drug-related laws include:

  • Legalized hempPA-100-1091 legalizes industrial hemp. Hemp is a derivative of cannabis and contains almost none of the mind-altering chemical THC, but it has useful purposes and can be a big cash crop. Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources is finalizing the specific rules farmers will have to follow, regulating seed distribution and crop amounts to prevent trouble with federal law enforcement.
  • Ban on synthetic marijuana — All synthetic cannabinoids (plants or oils with chemicals added that are meant to mimic the effects of marijuana) will now be Schedule I controlled substances and illegal in Illinois if misused or if not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. SB 2341 also closes a loophole in which manufacturers could evade the law with slight alterations to their formulas. Manufacture or delivery of those substances would carry two to five years of prison time and fines of up to $25,000. Possession may result in at least one year in jail.
  • Increasing Access to Treatments — Under the Emergency Opioid and Addiction Treatment Act, people with substance use disorders can get immediate access to outpatient treatment. SB 682 allows people to begin treatment prior to receiving authorization from an insurance company and requires the plan to cover outpatient treatment for 72 hours while the patient challenges the denial.
  • Training of Doctors — SB 2777 requires doctors who are able to prescribe controlled substances – including opioids – to complete at least 10 hours in continuing education regarding safety measures in prescribing potent drugs.
  • New Name – Illinois’ Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse will be renamed the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery. Laws governing it will be rewritten in order to provide clearer guidelines for organizations that provide intervention and treatment and for insurance companies to adopt a standardized approach to care.

What are Punishments for Drug Crimes In Illinois?

Illinois drug laws address controlled substances that include heroin, cocaine and morphine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, LSD and peyote. Illinois law prohibits the manufacturing, delivering or possessing with the intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. Because of the potential harm to others, drug trafficking is punished more severely than mere possession; the larger the amount of the drug involved, the greater the punishment.

For example, in Illinois, possession of less than 1 gram of cocaine or heroin or morphine is a Class 4 felony, with a sentence of probation or 1 to 3 years in jail. Possession of 900 grams or more may carry a sentence of 10 to 50 years in prison and fine of up to $200,000 or the full street value of the drug, whichever is greater.

Once drug sale or trafficking is involved, penalties increase. A delivery of less than one gram of cocaine or heroin is a Class 2 felony, with a possible sentence of 4 to 15 years in prison, with possibility of probation. If the amount of drugs is 900 grams, imprisonment ranges from 15 to 60 years.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation

If you have been charged with any drug crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find. The seasoned Illinois drug crime defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available in every situation and work with you 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 and rights. We will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case and what you need to know about Illinois drug laws.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us online or call our offices today to schedule your free initial consultation at 630-305-0222.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]