Even though marijuana is legal recreationally, medically or both in many states, marijuana remains as the source of the most drug arrests in Illinois and across the U.S. A majority of these drug arrests for marijuana are for possession.
A recent report by Pew Research found that 40% of all drug arrests in the U.S. in 2018 were for marijuana offenses. During that year, police officers arrested 663,000 people in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for marijuana offenses. Among those arrests, 92% were for possession of marijuana while only 8% were for marijuana sales or manufacturing.
Illinois became the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana effective January 1, 2020. Gov. Pritzker issued pardons to 11,000 people who had been convicted of low-level offenses involving marijuana to coincide with the law. Despite this law, it is still possible for people in Illinois to be arrested for marijuana possession. People who possess more than the legal amount can be charged with illegal possession of marijuana. Those under age 21 who are found to possess marijuana can also face charges.
Marijuana offenses can result in serious penalties, including fines and jail sentences. People who have been charged with marijuana offenses might benefit from getting help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after they have been charged.
An experienced attorney may be able to work to negotiate with the prosecutors for reduced charges or pleas to non-drug offenses. In some cases, the lawyers might identify constitutional problems with how the police officers conducted the stops, searches and seizures of their clients. If the stops, searches, or seizures were conducted unconstitutionally, the attorneys may file motions to suppress this evidence against their clients.