Don’t Let The Blazing News Headlines Lead You To Trouble
Posted on behalf of Donahue & Walsh, P.C. | February 11, 2020
Have you checked out the news lately?
If you answered “yes” you’ve almost certainly come across stories about legal marijuana use in Illinois. Recent headlines include:
- “The newest location to buy Girl Scout cookies in Chicago? Outside of a recreational marijuana dispensary.”
- “Illinois’ Adult-Use Pot Sales Are Blazing Hot! Michigan, Not So Much.”
- “Illinois extends medical marijuana sales hours amid pressure”
The conclusion is that people love their pot (and cookies, but who doesn’t?) and the “in” thing is to get a bit of weed from your local dispensary and have a good time. It’s all legal, harmless fun, right?
Despite Illinois becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for users over the age of 21, marijuana has received no such approval at the federal level. While you will not be swept away by a black helicopter for lighting up a joint in the privacy of your own home, you still face the possibility of significant legal penalties for federal marijuana crimes.
Federal law still classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug, which means it combines a high potential for abuse with no medical value. Whether you agree with the fed’s view of marijuana’s characteristics, you need to stay on the right side of the law. The federal government can potentially crack down on marijuana businesses in states that have legalized the substance. The best way for individuals to avoid federal marijuana charges is to refrain from growing marijuana plants and avoid storing significant quantities of it.
Additional Local Penalties
You’re not entirely off the hook locally either. It is still illegal to use marijuana in public places like streets and parks, in a motor vehicle, at schools, at hospitals, and near on-duty bus drivers, police officer, firefighters and corrections officers (source).
Don’t Forget DUI
You can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if your use of marijuana leaves you impaired behind the wheel. The law applies to marijuana use in a similar fashion to DUI for alcohol or prescription drugs.
The Bottom Line
If you do find yourself on the wrong side of a local or federal marijuana charge, remember one thing: you need the advice and representation of a proven criminal defense attorney.