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Arlington Heights criminal defense attorneysEven as other states began legalizing the possession of marijuana, and cities throughout Illinois began to decriminalize it, Illinois held steadfast to the laws that put hundreds of low-level, nonviolent offenders in jail. That has all changed, thanks to the recent passing of Senate Bill 2228. Understand what this bill means for you and your family, and how it may affect you in the future, should you find yourself stopped with marijuana on your person.

Possession Under 10 Grams No Longer a Criminal Offense

Prior to the bill, possession of 2.5 grams of marijuana or less was charged as a Class C misdemeanor, which carried a jail term of up to 30 days. Possession of 2.5 to 10 grams was charged as a Class B misdemeanor, which carried up to a six month jail term. Conviction on either level also resulted in significant fines. Effective immediately, these laws are no longer considered valid. Instead, possession of 10 grams or less is now considered a civil offense, which limits the punishment of being caught with it in your possession to a fine of $200.

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drug crimes, felony drug, Illinois drug crimes attorneyIn Illinois, there are different felonies related to drug crimes. A felony drug conviction involving controlled substances can result in serious consequences and significant jail time. Some of the potential charges include:

Possession With Intent To Deliver

The charge of possession with intent to deliver generally indicates that law enforcement seized or discovered an amount of an illegal substance or substances so large that there is implied intent to sell or distribute.

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Arlington Heights Criminal Lawyer, clemency program, drug offenders, Department of Justice, federal prisoners, drug crimes, Illinois Drug Crimes Defense AttorneyThe federal government recently announced a new clemency program that is targeted for drug offenders who are non-violent and are serving lengthy prison sentences due to the harsh sentencing practices from the 1980’s, when crack cocaine use had reached epidemic proportions. Many of those serving time would have much shorter prison terms under today’s sentencing guidelines. The program is also aimed at easing overcrowding in prisons and lowering corrections costs.

At a press conference announcing the new program, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said, "We are launching this clemency initiative … to quickly and effectively identify appropriate candidates … who have a clean prison record, do not present a threat to public safety, and were sentenced under out-of-date laws that have since been changed … this initiative is not limited to crack offenders."

The Department of Justice (DOJ) anticipates that the new program could affect thousands of federal prisoners. All prisoners will be notified of the program and the department will be applying "significant time and resources" to ensure that prisoners that qualify for the clemency program and early release will be identified.

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drugged driving, Illinois drug crimes defense attorney, legal medical marijuana, marijuana possession, medical marijuana, Illinois Department of Public Health, using cannabis, DUI regulationOn January 1st of this year, Illinois became one of the 21 states in the country to enact legal medical marijuana. And according to ProCon.org, Illinois does not accept other states’ registration ID cards. Also, a person can only possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis during any 14-day period, unlike other states (such as Delaware, Arizona, and Maine). Once a person has obtained a certification from an Illinois-licensed physician, he or she must apply for an ID card with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). With the passage of such drug laws, of course, comes the necessity to regulate activities that may arise when a person is using cannabis.

The 2014 Illinois DUI Factbook reports that when the IDPH issues a medical marijuana ID card a notation is made on the registrant’s driving record, to which law enforcement officials have access if the registrant is pulled over. Similar to alcohol, a person is not permitted to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. If an individual is transporting cannabis it must be done in a tamper-evident container and in an area of the vehicle inaccessible to the driver. The punishment for failure to do so is similar to an open-container ticket involving alcohol.

Despite the allowance of medical marijuana, Illinois is still among the strictest states in the country when it comes to marijuana regulation. In 2012, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health and as reported by the The Washington Post, there were 30,758 arrests per 100,000 users in Illinois for marijuana possession, the highest marijuana arrest rate in the nation.

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