Why Illinois Residents Shouldn’t Travel With Cannabis

Why Illinois Residents Shouldnโ€™t Travel With Cannabis
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Contributor: KC Scannell

It is insanely important to learn as much as you can about your state’s stance on legalized marijuana. It’s not as “cut-and-dry” as you might think. Just because a state has decided to allow its citizens to partake in marijuana, either for recreational or medicinal purposes, doesn’t just mean you can fire up when and wherever you please. Quite the contrary. There’s a litany of legal rules and regulations surrounding cannabis in states that have legalized its sale and use, and it’s vital that all citizens (and visitors) educate themselves on the intricacies. If they don’t, they’re likely to be penalized for their negligence.

One such state that should start reading up on marijuana laws is Illinois. This beautiful midwestern territory already allows its residents to enjoy the benefits of cannabis in a medicinal sense, but come January 2020, every person that lives within the borders of Illinois will be able to purchase and partake in recreational marijuana. This is something the citizens of Illinois have been fighting for, for quite some time. And, seeing as how they’re somewhat versed in the medicinal realm of cannabis, the average person in this state probably has a basic understanding of the ramifications, should they be caught doing something illegal.

For starters, it’s crucial to know just how much one person can have at one time. While it varies from state to state, the folks in Illinois will be able to have up to 30 grams of flower, 500mg of any sort of THC-infused product (edible, drink, topical, etc.), as well as 5 grams of concentrate (wax, shatter, etc.). And, yes, that does mean “all at once.” You don’t have to limit yourself to one category of cannabis, but be mindful not to exceed those legal limits, or you’re likely to be slapped with a hefty penalty.

To be fair, those are some large amounts. Especially since we’re only talking about one individual. If you have (roughly) an ounce of flowers (28 grams), you’re probably not going to need any more for quite some time. So, to say that the local government was being generous in this regard would be an incredibly apt statement. And, to be honest, we applaud their leniency.

If you have family or friends in Illinois and are curious about what the limits are for non-residents, it’s a pretty simple rule: take all of those aforementioned amounts and cut them in half. That is the legally allowed amount for any and all visitors who choose to grab some cannabis while in Illinois.

But, like anyone who is visiting a location, they will (in most cases) want to return home. And, seeing as how they don’t live in Illinois, that would mean crossing state lines. But, if you plan on doing that with some newly purchased bud, you could be in for a world of hurt – legally speaking. There are a lot of laws that prohibit such transportation of cannabis, especially into Illinois’ neighboring state of Missouri.

Like most other states who have legalized cannabis, anybody nearby tries to get in on the fun, too. Which is more than understandable. But they must remember to finish off their buds before returning home unless they want to risk facing a substantial fine and/or jail time.

Missouri isn’t the first state to express concern about an adjacent area legalizing marijuana. Back when cannabis legalization was first taking off, Colorado was at the forefront of the proceedings. They were amongst the first to finally legalize marijuana, and the country was never the same – in a great way. But, with large victories come minor defeats. And Colorado seemed to have a tiny issue on their hands, as far as visitors bringing buds back across state lines with them on their way home.

This grew to become such an issue that Oklahoma and Nebraska pursued legal action against the state of Colorado. They were seeing more and more people bringing ganja back with them, and their court system simply wasn’t ready to deal with the influx of cannabis enthusiasts breaking their outdated laws against marijuana.

Obviously, the case was thrown out, but it still raised a lot of eyebrows across the nation – especially in states that were either newly legalized or thinking about legalizing in the near future, like Illinois, for instance.

This stands to be an issue in Illinois and Missouri mainly because it’s so easy to commute from state-to-state, via multiple routes and bridges connecting the two states. That, in addition to there being a few dispensaries located along the state line, it almost seems too enticing for Missouri residents to try their luck at bringing some legal buds back home with them. But, we must encourage these people to follow the laws, and only enjoy cannabis where it is allowed.

If any numbskulls choose to test the waters, they may not like what happens to them if they get caught. To be specific, if you are caught in Missouri with anywhere between 10-35 grams of cannabis, you can be hit with a “Class A” misdemeanor. In that case, that person could face up to a year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $2,000.

Now, does that really seem worth it? We certainly don’t think so.

And, as strict as that sounds, the people of Missouri don’t want to come across as too harsh. For example, if you are caught with 10 grams or less, that charge drops down to a “Class D” misdemeanor. With that, you’d only be looking at a $500 fine. Now, I’m fully aware of how much $500 is, but when compared to the potential year in jail, I’d say this is a bargain. But, again, it’s totally not worth it.

The St. Louis City Circuit Attorney’s Office has released a statement on the matter, wherein they make it clear that they don’t want to penalize the average enthusiast too much. A spokeswoman for the office, Susan Ryan, specifically stated, “We’re trying not to affect casual marijuana users.” Which is the right move. It’s all about stopping and deterring criminal operations from smuggling large amounts back into their state.

Missouri, however, isn’t going to be in the “dark” on cannabis legalization for too much longer. Residents in this fine state are already allowed to apply for medicinal marijuana cards, but there will not be any storefronts in this part of the country for a while. Experts speculate that a few med-only shops will open in the area sometime in the late spring or early summer. Fingers crossed.

But, regardless of when those dispensaries open up for business, the fact remains that Missouri isn’t going to encourage any sort of transporting of buds from Illinois into their state. But, in all honesty, they are only looking to penalize those who break the law by major margins. In fact, it’s up to the officer to make the call whether or not they want to write up a ticket for a minor infraction. It truly is a case-by-case basis.

So, if you are caught with a scant amount of cannabis in Missouri, you may be able to get out of it with just a warning. But, if you’re planning on talking your way out of an infraction, chances are you’ll be hit with some sort of penalty. The best bet is to just play by the rules and wait until dispensaries open up in your state. Better safe than sorry.

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