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A Complete Guide to Illinois Drug Possession Laws

Illinois Drug Possession Laws

State-by-state drug possession laws vary. As such, it is crucial to be aware of the laws in your jurisdiction. If you are dealing with drug possession charges in Illinois, this article is for you.

Illinois has adopted stricter drug laws and sentencing guidelines. That has resulted in harsh punishments for various drug offenses. Even a trivial marijuana charge can remain on your criminal record. This might harm your employment prospects after a drug conviction.

If you have been charged with or arrested for any drug possession, you may need drug defense attorneys. Such attorneys should understand the stakes and how to strengthen your case.

This comprehensive guide to Illinois controlled substance possession laws will help you understand this complex legal landscape. For further information, you can reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney from the Hirsh Law Group.

Understanding Drug Charges in Illinois

Drug possession refers to having a controlled substance in your physical control or property. It also includes having a controlled substance analog or a counterfeit substance.

Under Illinois drug laws, drug possession is categorized into two primary classifications:

Low-Level Possession of a Controlled Substance

Low-Level drug possession occurs when an individual is found to have a controlled substance for personal use. A charge for Prescription Drug Possession without a valid prescription also falls under this category.

Unlawful Possession with Intent to Deliver

This crime involves manufacturing illegal drugs or having them with the intention of selling them. Factors that may contribute to a charge of possession with intent to deliver include:

  • The quantity of drugs

  • Packaging materials

  • Large amounts of cash

  • Paraphernalia associated with drug sales

Illinois Drug Possession Laws

The Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570) establishes the framework for drug possession laws in the state. Illinois classifies controlled substances into five schedules.

The classification is based on abuse potential and medical usage. Schedule I drugs have no medical use but have the highest abuse potential. Schedule V drugs have the lowest abuse potential and have medical use.

The penalties for drug possession offenses depend on the schedule of the drug and the amount in possession.

That said, drug cases can fall into any of these schedules:

  • Schedule I drugs: Opiates and hallucinogens

  • Schedule II: Cocaine, oxycodone, codeine, and Methamphetamine

  • Schedule III: Buprenorphine, certain steroids, and ketamine

  • Schedule IV: Alprazolam, diazepam, and tramadol

  • Schedule V: Pharmaceuticals with trace quantities of narcotics

Classification of Drug Crimes in Illinois

Illinois takes a different approach when classifying drug crimes. Unlike most states, Illinois drug possession laws focus on the type of drug and the schedule. Based on this, drug crimes can either be a felony or a misdemeanor.

Illinois Misdemeanor Drug Crimes

Misdemeanors are minor offenses, while felonies carry more punishment.

Under Illinois drug laws, a misdemeanor can be:

  • Class A Misdemeanor

  • Class B misdemeanor

  • Class C misdemeanor

Of all three, Class C misdemeanors carry the least severe penalties. Class A misdemeanors carry the most punishment under Illinois law.

Illinois Felony Drug Crimes

Illinois divides unlawful possession felony offense into five classes:

  • Class X felony

  • Class 1 felony

  • Class 2 felony

  • Class 3 felony

  • Class 4 felony.

Drug possession cases classified as Class 1 felonies are the most severe. Such drug charges may carry the harshest penalties under Illinois law.

Drugs Commonly Abused and Their Penalties Under Illinois Law

The following is a list of some commonly misused substances and the associated penalties:

Marijuana Possession

  • Possession of 10 grams or less violates civil law, not criminal law. Such is punishable by a fine between $100 and $200.

  • Possession of 10-30 grams of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,500 fine and up to six months in prison.

  • Possession of 30-100 grams of marijuana (first offense) is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500. It becomes a Class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines for a second offense.

  • Having more than 100 grams of marijuana is a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Depending on the quantity, you may also get up to $25,000 in fines.

  • Having up to five plants in your house may get you a fine of about $200. However, more plants mean higher fines. If you have 5–20 plants, you can serve up to three years in prison for a crime and pay up to $25,000.

Possession of Prohibited Drugs

The illegal possession of substances such as cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, morphine, and L.S.D. is a felony.

  • Possession of over 15 grams of a controlled substance is a Class 1 felony punishable by up to four and fifty years in prison. Depending on the quantity of the controlled substances, you may also pay $200,000 in fines.

  • Possession with intent to manufacture or deliver is a Class 1 felony punishable by four to fifteen years in prison. You may also get fines of up to $250,000. This crime may also be a Class X felony punishable with imprisonment for six to sixty years and fines of up to $500,000. This occurs in cases where the quantity exceeds 15 grams.

Anabolic steroids

First-time possession of an anabolic steroid is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,500 fine and up to 30 days in prison.

A second offense within two years is punished by a maximum $1,500 fine and up to six months in prison.


The General Assembly has separate legislation for Methamphetamine. That is because it differs from other drugs regulated by the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. Meth is controlled by the methamphetamine control and community protection act.

Implications of meth possession under the methamphetamine control and community protection act are:

  • Less than 5 grams: Class 3 felony punishable with 2–5 years in prison, $25,000 fine

  • 5–15 grams: Class 2 felony punishable with 3–7 years in prison and a $25,000 fine

  • 15–100 grams: Class 1 felony punishable with 4–15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine

  • 100 to 400 grams: Class X felony punishable with 6–30 years in prison and a $100,000 fine

  • 400 to 900 grams: Class X felony punishable with 8–40 years in prison and a $200,000 fine

  • More than 900 grams: Class X felony punishable with 10–50 years in prison and a $300,000 fine

How a Lawyer Can Help You

If you are facing a drug conviction, you should consult an experienced attorney. They will help you explore possible defenses and safeguard your rights.

Some possible defenses your lawyer might use include:

  • Lack of understanding

  • Prescription medications

  • Infantile (persons younger than 13 years old)

  • Insanity

  • Coercion

  • Entrapment

Consult With Our Drug Possession Defense Lawyer

If you are apprehended for drug possession, you may face serious penalties and substantial disruption to your life and future. The criminal defense attorneys at Hirsch Law Group have decades of experience. We have defended many clients against a broad spectrum of substance charges.

We can help you navigate your legal defense options and improve your outcome. Our law firm offers free consultations to help clients throughout Illinois.

Contact our drug possession attorneys for a free initial consultation to discuss your case.