As mentioned in News Joint Grow Journal 2, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Illinois House Bill 1438) has forced registered medical patients into a gray area of the law because Illinois requires p… Aggressive. Experienced. Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor Blog Home Can You Legally Grow Marijuana In Illinois? by: Andrew Weisberg Since
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Opinion: Botched Illinois cannabis law creates silver lining
As mentioned in News Joint Grow Journal 2, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Illinois House Bill 1438) has forced registered medical patients into a gray area of the law because Illinois requires patients to purchase cannabis seeds from dispensaries. However, Illinois dispensaries have not and do not sell cannabis genetics (they’ve accidently sold seeds inside eighths of flower). The law also states that seeds, cuts, and clones are not to be gifted or exchanged between patients.
Essentially, Illinois has caused registered medical patients, who want to procure seeds and grow their own medicine, to become criminals or go without. Illinois legislatures are working on a solution to this snafu in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, but in the meantime, the Illinois cannabis industry market has adjusted and moved forward, with or without the State of Illinois’ consent.
Why do dispensaries not sell seeds? Creating stable genetics takes time, extra space, and expert resources, and in general, dispensaries want patients to buy flower from their cultivators, not grow medicine for themselves. In addition, the law is not black and white in how Illinois dispensary, cultivators, and brands are to legally go about procuring and selling genetics.
“How do I get seeds?” is one of the most ask questions we receive from medical patients. The patients I know or have communicated with desperately want to follow the law but are confused by where and how to purchase legal seeds or overwhelmed by the amount of choices offered.
Plenty of breeders and seed banks exist in the Unites States and across the pond, but plenty of scammers also exist. “Non-cannafam” patients who just want to grow their own medicine do not know the intricacies of the “seed bank and breeder industry” or of international, federal, or Illinois laws regarding seeds. They just want to grow their own personalized medicine in peace.
Without the State of Illinois changing or even publicity addressing this flaw in the law, the cannabis industry market, as markets do, has moved on without the State of Illinois. The biggest silver lining to this botched part of the law is that the free market has found a better process and solution for patients to procure seeds than patients would have had if dispensaries sold genetics.
For the last twenty months, Illinois “grow shops” have filled the demand for seeds by stocking a wide variety of genetics for medical patients. The market’s solution to the flawed law, I believe, has worked out exponentially more beneficial for patients than dispensaries could have offered for the following reason:
- Selection: grow shops are offering a greater variety of selection than Illinois dispensaries would have been able to offer. And why would an Illinois patient want to continually grow strains that only Illinois offers? The point to growing your own medicine is to grow the exact strain the gives the patient the most relief.
- Quality: grow shops are offering top-notch genetics from the best breeders around. Patients don’t have to worry about the quality of the genetics, because grow shop owners and staff members are usually growers themselves and know the difference.
- Cheaper: It’s difficult to judge what prices Illinois dispensaries would charge for seeds, but if Illinois cannabis-product prices are any indication, then the grow shops are surely selling the genetics cheaper than patients would have had to pay at dispensaries.
- Better access: Now that grow shops carry genetics, patients do not have to order seeds online or through the mail and risk breaking the law, losing the seeds in delivery, scammers, and other complications. Grow shops are already strategically placed throughout Illinois and accessible to most Illinoisans, and each month new grow shops are opening.
- Supports local businesses: Grow shops are local. Most grow shops have been around and are well established in the community, often for longer than local dispensaries. Buying from grow shops invest not only in the community but also supports the “local grow community” that grow shops have already garnered, supported, and advocated for.
- Patient access to expertise: grow shops, as mention, are usually owned and staffed by medical patients who have experience growing their own medicine. Grow shops employees (with some exceptions I’m sure) better understand strain lineages and medical effects. We constantly hear about “patient specialist” at dispensaries incorrectly “weedsplaining” strains and effects to patients. Now image the advice a patient would get about genetics from a dispensary “specialist” who has never grown medicine. Getting bad advice on an eighth of flower is one thing. Image ruining a patient’s entire grow with bad advice.
- Patient support: growing is a long-term project, and grow shops can better supply follow up questions and solutions to problems for a patient’s first or one-hundredth grow. Grow shops also supply the exact equipment a patient needs to germinate, grow, and harvest medicine. Growing is a series of adjustment, and access to expertise and equipment is a great benefit.
- Grow community: maybe the most overlooked benefit of purchasing genetics at grow shops is the chance to become part of a local “grow community” to help expand knowledge, make new likeminded friends, and become an overall better grower. Legalization has offered the benefit of sharing classes and other sources on how to grow your own medicine that were not available even five years ago. Take advantage of it.
The frustration and contempt that seeps through this opinion piece, even when I am purposely trying not to, is not aimed toward the State of Illinois, legislatures, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, or Illinois Department of Agriculture. I’m a lifetime Illinoisan: born, raised, and educated. I expect Illinois to be Illinois.
This frustration and contempt spawns from empathy and concern I feel for fellow patients, who have been placed in an untenable situation. I have heard their confusion and frustration firsthand. Some have even felt intimidated by the law.
When I first started News Joint Grow Journal and ran across this problem, I wanted Illinois to fix it. I’ve changed my mind.
The market has spoken and fixed a problem for medical patients that Illinois itself created. Illinois and dispensaries now need to stay away from selling seeds, and Illinois should instead write into the law a legal way for patients, grow shops, breeders, and “the grow community” to continue what the they have already created. This market adjustment for patients already functions smoother than nearly every other aspect of the law.
Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor
Can You Legally Grow Marijuana In Illinois?
by: Andrew Weisberg
Since Illinois legalized marijuana both recreationally and medically in the state in 2020, many people have taken advantage of it. However, the new laws do not allow certain things. It’s important to know what you’re allowed to do with marijuana and what you’re not allowed to do – if you want to stay out of legal trouble.
While marijuana may be legal in the state, there are still legal consequences for breaking the laws that are in place. That’s why it’s vital for every Illinois resident who partakes of marijuana to understand what they can and cannot do, especially when it comes to cultivating your own plants at home. Here’s what you need to know.
What Does Marijuana Being Legal Mean?
In 2020, cannabis, or marijuana, became legal in Illinois for recreational users. Up until that point, it had been legal for those who needed it for medical reasons and was approved for its use by a medical professional.
The new law made the sale, possession, and trafficking of small amounts of marijuana legal. However, the cultivation of marijuana is only something that can be done by people with qualifying medical conditions. Recreational users may not grow their own plants. If they do, then they can face legal consequences.
Medical Marijuana in Illinois
Since 2013, medical marijuana has been legal in the state. It lets those who have a qualifying medical condition register to use cannabis with the Department of Public Health.
With a doctor’s prescription, medical marijuana users can get up to 71 grams of marijuana every two weeks. If they require more due to a medical condition, they can get a waiver from the state.
It is also legal for medical users to grow their own marijuana, but there are rules attached. Medical marijuana users can grow up to five plants over five inches tall, but they must be in rooms that are secure from anyone under the age of 21. Also, they must be grown out of public view.
Housing laws can also apply in some situations when it comes to growing. If you live in federally subsidized housing, you can be denied housing or evicted if you use or grow marijuana.
If you live in private rental housing, the landlords may ban smoking in their dwellings, but it can be used in other preparations. In a lease, it is possible for a landlord to ban growing marijuana on their property, so make sure you clear it with them before you do.
Penalties for Growing Marijuana
If you have a medical card, there are no legal penalties for growing up to five plants of your own. However, it is a violation of the law to grow plants for recreational use. Up to five plants will only result in a fine of $200, but the more plants you grow, the steeper the penalties.
If you have between 5 and 20 plants, you can serve up to three years in prison for a felony and be required to pay up to $25,000. If you have between 20 and 50 plants you can go to prison for five years, while 50 to 100 plants can send you to prison for up to five years and require you to pay fines of $100,000. If you have between 50 and 200 plants, that penalty is raised to seven years. Over 200 plants can lead to incarceration for up to 15 years.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.