After Illinois legalized recreational cannabis, Governor JB Pritzker granted pardons to more than 11,000 individuals with convictions for misdemeanor cannabis offenses. However, because of the way the law was worded, law enforcement was still able to arrest Illinoisans on basic possession charges. For example, Darien Police Chief Greg Thomas continued to arrest Illinoisans for possession (not consumption) of marijuana in a motor vehicle.
In Section 10-35 (Limitations and penalties) the law used to state that cannabis needed to be “in a vehicle not open to the public unless the cannabis is in a reasonably secured, sealed container and reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.”
Thomas was quoted as saying to his City Council, “The law is very specific and easy. Cannabis has to be contained in a sealed, odor-proof, child resistant container. It’s very simple. If it’s sealed in an odor-proof, child-resistant container, just keep it in there until you get home. If you open it, don’t transport it.”
July 15, 2021, Pritzker signed into law rewording for how patients and recreational users can legally possess cannabis while in a motor vehicle.
Now, the law states that cannabis cannot be in a vehicle “upon a highway in this State except in a secured, sealed or resealable, odor-proof, and child-resistant medical cannabis container that is inaccessible.”
Illinois changed its definition of “cannabis container,” from “a sealed, traceable, container, or package used for the purpose of containment of cannabis or cannabis-infused product during transportation” to “a sealed or resealable, traceable, container, or package used for the purpose of containment of cannabis or cannabis-infused product during transportation.”
Currently, as long as customers have the cannabis in a “resealable” container that is “inaccessible” to them while driving, law enforcement officials, like Thomas, will not be able to use a wording glitch in the law to arrest otherwise law abiding citizens.
December 30, 2021, Illinois Rep. La Shawn K. Ford filed with the House of Representatives Clerk’s Office an amendment to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and Illinois Vehicle Code that removes the requirement that a medical or adult-use cannabis container in a motor vehicle be odor-proof and child resistant and lowers the penalty to a petty offense, unless convicted twice for the infraction.
The amendment would
- Removes the requirement that a medical or adult-use cannabis container in a motor vehicle be odor-proof and child resistant.
- Provides that a person who possesses medical cannabis and does not contain such cannabis in a secured, sealed or resealable, inaccessible container commits a petty offense.
- Provides that any driver who is convicted for improperly storing cannabis in a vehicle, or for transporting a passenger who improperly stores cannabis in a vehicle, for a second or subsequent time within one year of a similar conviction shall be subject to the suspension of the person’s driving privileges.
The amendment failed to be included into the law last year but was re-introduced for a first reading and referred to the Rules Committee on January 5. The amendment was assigned to the Executive Committee February 9 but was re-referred to the Rules Committee February 18.
In contrast, on January 27, 2002, Rep. Patrick Windhorst filed with the House of Representatives Clerk’s Office an amendment to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act to increase the penalty from a civil law violation to a Class A misdemeanor for anyone under the age of 21 who uses or possesses cannabis. Current state law has classified minor possession as a civil violation and fully decriminalized and legalized adult use of cannabis. This amendment also was re-referred to the Rules Committee February 18.
A closely related amendment filed by Representative Justin Slaughter would provide for expungement of misdemeanor and petty offense violations concerning drug paraphernalia used for cannabis and minor cannabis offenses as defined in the expungement, sealing, and immediate sealing statute.
The amendment would
- Provides for expungement of misdemeanor and petty offense violations of ordinances that are similar to minor cannabis violations under State law.
- Also provides for the expungement of municipal ordinance and State law violations concerning drug paraphernalia used for cannabis.
- Provides that in relation to minor cannabis offenses as defined in the expungement, sealing, and immediate sealing statute, includes satisfactory terminations of supervision and satisfactory terminations of qualified probation in the disposition records for which the Illinois State Police shall identify and notify the Prisoner Review Board for the Board to make a confidential and privileged recommendation to the Governor as to whether to grant a pardon authorizing expungement for each of the records identified.
- Provides that allocations to the clerks of the circuit court from the Cannabis Expungement Fund shall be appropriated to the Supreme Court for disbursement to the circuit clerks to be deposited into the Circuit Court Clerk Operation and Administrative Fund.
This amendment was assigned to the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee February 18.
For information about more proposed amendments to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, click here.
For more Illinois cannabis industry news, click here.