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Illinois Legalizes Recreational Cannabis


As of January 1, 2020, Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize the possession and consumption of recreational cannabis. In passing the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, anyone twenty-one (21) and older can legally purchase recreational cannabis from a dispensary in Illinois including those from outside of the state when visiting. The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act permits legal customers to possess up to thirty (30) grams of marijuana at any one point in time however recreational cannabis will not be permitted to be smoked or otherwise consumed in public. In addition, only medical marijuana patients will be permitted to grow the plant in or around their homes.

From a business standpoint, going forward both marijuana growers and dispensaries will need to be individually approved and licensed by the state before engaging in the sale of recreational cannabis. As for employers and landlords, they will be permitted to ban recreational cannabis from their properties if they so choose.

The new state cannabis law is also going to affect drug testing at work as the new law gives Illinois employers a lot of room to keep drug-free policies if they so choose. While not every employer will decide to limit marijuana use among its workers it is best to look into what your company’s specific drug policies are as well as with your boss or human resources department before consuming recreational cannabis in the new year.

As for marijuana related offenses prior to January 1, 2020, those convicted of the possession of under thirty (30) grams of marijuana will have their records referred to the state’s Prisoner Review Board and then to Governor Pritzker for a potential pardon as long as the conviction at issue was not associated with a violent crime. From there, if the governor grants the pardon, the Illinois attorney general would then seek expungement. As for those convicted for possession between thirty (30) to five hundred (500) grams have the option of petitioning for expungement themselves. In addition, local state’s attorneys can also pursue expungement for those convictions on a case-by-case basis.

The increased use of recreational cannabis across the state of Illinois is inevitable, and with its increasing availability, purchasing it is going to become easier than ever. However, the use of recreational cannabis is no different than the use of alcohol while driving. Illinois already has a law on the books that makes drivers with THC blood concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter guilty of driving under the influence, regardless of whether the driver is impaired. In addition to the already established law, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act creates a DUI Task Force led by Illinois State Police to examine best practices for roadside testing. For any questions relating to the legal aspects of recreational marijuana via employment, criminal, real estate or general legal inquiries contact the attorneys at Sherwood Law Group at (312)-627-1650 or email
Categories: illinois law