What Are The New Illinois Weed Laws? (Updated 2019)

The new recreational laws are expected to take effect in 2020.

Illinois weed laws iStock / Melpomenem

In early June, Illinois legalized recreational weed through their legislative body. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act is scheduled to be implemented in 2020.

Possession and Purchasing Limits

Illinois residents age 21 and over will be able to possess:

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  • Up to 30 grams of cannabis flower
  • 5 grams of concentrate
  • A maximum of 500 mg of THC within a cannabis-infused product

Medical patients who are registered in the medical program are permitted to possess more than 30 grams of flower if they personally grow and secure the excess quantity.

Non-residents of Illinois will be able to possess:

  • 15 grams of cannabis flower
  • 5 grams of concentrate
  • A maximum of 250 mg of THC within a cannabis-infused product

Social Equity Program

One of the most socially powerful aspects of Illinois’ recreational law is the intentionality with which it approaches social equity through cannabis reform. The Drug War, particularly enforcement of cannabis prohibition, has wreaked havoc on marginalized communities. As Gov. Pritzker said in a statement, Illinois’ “equity-centric approach” to cannabis reform “will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance.”

The program will include the following initiatives:

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  • the creation of a $30 million low-interest loan program designed to assist with the startup costs of opening a licensed cannabis business. The loan will be available for qualifying social equity applicants.
  • the creation of a “social equity applicant” status for Illinois residents or those who employ them who have been convicted of a drug related crime that would be expunged under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
  • the establishment of an investment program designed to Restore, Reinvest, and Renew to address economic development, violence prevention services, re-entry services, youth development, and civil legal aid.
  • an avenue for the expungement of non-violent, drug-related crimes


Public consumption is prohibited. This includes the following locations:

  • streets
  • parks
  • school grounds (medical users are exempt)
  • motor vehicles
  • correctional facilities
  • in close proximity to someone under age 21

Consumers can use cannabis in a private residence as long as use is hidden from public view. Landlords and higher education institutions have the right to ban cannabis use.

Driving Under the Influence

Drivers with 5 nanograms or more THC in their blood will be found guilty of driving under the influence. Penalties include a license suspension for up to 6 months for a first-time offense (subsequent offenses within 5 years can lead to 1 year’s suspension).

Exporting Cannabis

According to Federal and Illinois law, it is illegal to take cannabis across state lines even if you are coming from or returning to a cannabis-legal state. If you are visiting the state, you will have to consume your cannabis while in Illinois and safely dispose of whatever you do not consume before heading to the airport, bus or train station, or driving home.

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Personal Cultivation 

The cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use is prohibited. However, medical patients will be permitted to grow up to 5 cannabis plants at home.

Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions

Illinois’ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act began as a pilot program in 2014. It became a permanent program, losing the “pilot’ designation in August 2019.

Patients with the 1 or more of the following debilitating medical conditions may be eligible to participate in the program:

  • Autism
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
  • Dystonia
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neuro-Bechet’s autoimmune disease
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Residual limb pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including that characteristic of Epilepsy)
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
  • Spinal cord injury is damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia
  • Superior canal dehiscence syndrome
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Ulcerative colitis

Hard copy petitions to add debilitating medical conditions may be submitted by mail to:

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Illinois Department of Public Health

Division of Medical Cannabis

535 W. Jefferson St.

Springfield, IL 62761-0001

The petitions will be reviewed annually during the month of January.

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Applying for a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois

In order to apply for a patient registry identification card in Illinois, adult patients must:

  • be an Illinois resident
  • have a qualifying debilitating medical condition
  • have a signed physician certification
  • Consent to obtain a fingerprint background check and submit photo ID

Bus drivers, truck drivers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, and firefighters are ineligible.

The application can be submitted online. Before starting the application, the patient must have a printed copy of the physician’s certification that they can scan and upload along with their application.

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Minor qualifying patients are eligible to participate in the program if they comply with the same requirements for adult patients with these two exceptions:

  • They must obtain a reviewing physician’s certification in addition to their first physician’s certification
  • They do not need to obtain a fingerprint background check or submit photo ID
  • Their legal guardians must consent to their participation in the program.

According to Ashley’s Law, students who are registered qualifying patients under Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act may use oils, ointments, foods, and other cannabis-infused products while in school. However, they may not smoke or vape any cannabis.

There are multiple application fee options:

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  • $100 for a 1-year registry card
  • $200 for a 2-year registry card
  • $250 for a 3-year registry card

Social Security Disability Income and/or Supplemental Security Income recipients and veterans may be eligible for the following reduced application fees:

  • $50 for a 1-year registry card
  • $100 for a 2-year registry card
  • $125 for a 3-year registry card

The Alternative to Opioids Act of 2018

This law allows patients who can be prescribed opioids access to medical marijuana instead. These patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every 14 days.

The law is designed to provide patients with relief without exposing them to highly addictive opioids. Patients must obtain a physician certification to participate. The certification is valid for 90 days. Patients can renew their physician certifications for a $10 fee once they reach the 90-day expiration.

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What Are The New Illinois Weed Laws? (Updated 2019) was last modified: by