Is weed legal in Chicago? Yes, both medical marijuana and recreational weed are legal in Chicago.
Whether you need medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of a medical condition or you just want to light up for the fun of it, the law is on your side. But that’s not all you should know about weed in the Windy City.
Today, we’ll be combing through the state of things in the Illinois cannabis industry to beam light on Chicago weed statutes and highlight how they affect you as a resident or a visitor.
Asking, “Is weed legal in Chicago?” is a good place to start but don’t stop there; there are other important things you need to know.
Let’s have a look at the status of weed in Chicago.
Is Weed Legal in Chicago? A Timeline of Chicago Marijuana Laws
The city of Broad Shoulder has always stood out in U.S. history for a whole lot of intriguing reasons. That streak has not ended, as the state of Illinois — Chicago, especially — is creating trends in the cannabis industry and raising some interesting conversation points.
As of 2019, if you had asked, “Is medical marijuana legal in Chicago?” The answer would have been a resounding yes.
If, instead, you asked, “Is weed legal in Chicago?” Someone might have asked if you meant recreational weed or medical weed.
Today, it doesn’t matter how you phrase your question; the answer is yes.
Chicago Marijuana Laws: Medical Marijuana in Illinois
Chicago and other cities in Illinois banned cannabis back in the 30s when prohibition started. The prohibition led to many arrests and a pile-up of criminal records; even the tiniest possession of cannabis led to arrests and criminal records.
The Cannabis Control Act of 1978
Later on, in 1978, the Cannabis Control Act was passed but never actualized due to the unwillingness of state departments to facilitate it.
In order for the act to become law, the Department of Human Services and Illinois State Police needed to take action, but neither was willing, so cannabis remained illegal.
Medical Marijuana is Legalized (2013)
Thirty-six years after the 1978 effort failed, state residents finally got medical marijuana. In 2013, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (MCPP)
Governor Patrick Quinn signed the bill into law in August 2013, and it went into operation in January 2014, making Illinois the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana.
The law legalized cannabis for patients with specific conditions under strict circumstances. Patients needed to undergo a background check, provide an ID and get a recommendation from a doctor with whom they had an existing relationship before they could buy and use marijuana.
Is weed legal in Chicago? You bet — and it’s also been decriminalized!
The next stop after the legalization of medical marijuana was marijuana decriminalization. Before decriminalization, possession of small amounts of marijuana was a misdemeanor.
In July 2016, Illinois reduced punishment for under 10 grams of cannabis to a $100–200 fine.
Evolution of Medical Marijuana Law
Over time, the law surrounding medical marijuana in Illinois evolved several times. In 2018, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill.
The new legislation recognized marijuana as an alternative painkiller drug compared to opioids which caused overdose and addiction. The legislation also simplified the patient application process and eliminated the need for fingerprinting or background checks.
In 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that made the pilot medical marijuana program permanent and expanded the list of qualifying conditions.
These reforms came at a time when efforts to legalize recreational marijuana were in full swing. You can read more on the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act here.
Chicago Marijuana Laws: Legalization of Recreational Chicago Weed (2019)
Thanks to Governor Pritzker, you can casually walk into a Chicago dispensary today to get yourself some premium Chicago weed.
J.B. Pritzker is widely known as a pro-legalization advocate, and as the governor, he signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which the Illinois General Assembly passed.
Surprisingly, Illinois is the second state (after Vermont) to legalize marijuana via a state legislature. Marijuana legalization was always a case of citizen initiatives, with voters deciding whether to legalize marijuana via balloting.
As the 11th state to legalize marijuana, Illinois switched things up a bit in new and exciting directions.
Interesting Facts About Illinois and Chicago Weed Legalization
If you’re curious about the legality of weed in Chicago, you should understand some interesting things that could greatly benefit you.
Social Equity Program
Illinois was the first state to establish a social equity program alongside weed legalization.
The social equity program was designed to offer disadvantaged people and people of color who bore the brunt of the war on drugs an opportunity to benefit from the legal cannabis industry without discrimination.
The social equity program includes resources like:
- Additional points for license applicants
- Access to financial resources
- Training programs at colleges for individuals seeking to enter the cannabis industry
- Development programs for community groups serving disadvantaged communities
Boasts One of the Most Thriving Cannabis Populations in the U.S
The legalization of weed in Illinois saw the biggest opening day in U.S. recreational cannabis sales history.
Second, only to Oregon, Illinoisians spent a whopping $3.2 million on the first day of recreational sales.
Of the 37 dispensaries that started recreational cannabis in Illinois, nine were located in Chicago.
The cold didn’t stop consumers from searching for and queuing at the nearest Chicago dispensary for a chance to finally get their hands on legal recreational Chicago weed.
Despite having a relatively younger cannabis market in 2020, Illinois recorded about $543 million in cannabis sales. Thus, becoming one of the top ten states with the most sales that year.
This might indicate the willingness of residents to shift patronage from illegal street-corner dealers to embrace premium Chicago marijuana despite the higher price.
Interested in entering this growing cannabis market? You may consider applying for an Illinois Cannabis Craft Grower license. The social equity program allows qualified social equity applicants to get the forms at half the initial fee.
Illinois had one of the toughest wars on drugs during prohibition in the 30s. Unsurprisingly, the war also brought about numerous unjust arrests.
As part of the social equity policy, about 770,000 criminal records for cannabis-related crimes are up for expungement.
You can check out this Chicago Tribune article to know if you qualify to have your weed-related criminal records expunged and how you can go about it.
Where to Get Weed in Chicago
If all you were asking before is, “Is weed legal in Chicago?” Now you know that it is, but where can you get Chicago weed?
You can buy cannabis and cannabis products at any Chicago dispensary nearby. Below is a list of the 10 dispensaries in the Windy City.
- MedMar, 3812 N. Clark Street Chicago, IL 60613
- Dispensary 33, 5001 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640
- MOCA Modern Cannabis, 2847 W. Fullerton Ave. Chicago, IL 60647
- Maribis of Chicago, 4570 S. Archer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60632
- Columbia Care, 4758 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60630
- Mission Illinois, 8554 S. Commercial Avenue, Chicago, IL 60617
- The Herbal Care Center, 1301 S. Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608
- Midway Dispensary, 5648 S. Archer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638
- Zen Leaf Chicago, 6428 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60631
- NuMed Chicago, 1308 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642
You can also use any weed delivery service in Chicago to transport your weed from a local dispensary! Just make sure you have your ID validated with the company first.
A good option for patients looking for the best medical dispensary in Chicago would be The Herbal Care Center, Chicago.
What Can You Buy at a Chicago Dispensary?
One thing you’re most likely to notice about any Chicago dispensary you walk into is the pristineness of the stores. Usually, all products are prepacked and put on locked displays.
And surely, you can find anything weed, weed-based, or weed-infused in any of these dispensaries, including:
- Buds – loose or pre-packaged
- Pre-rolled joints
Important Chicago Marijuana Laws You Need to Know
As a resident or visitor in Chicago, these are a few things you must know:
- Age: You must be 21 or older and with a valid ID before legally purchasing, possessing, or consuming marijuana in Chicago. According to Chicago marijuana law, Patients 18 or older with a qualifying condition can access medical marijuana using a medical marijuana card.
- Possession Limits: Residents can possess 30 grams of cannabis, 500mg of THC in cannabis-infused products, and 5mg of concentrate. Non-residents can possess 15 grams of cannabis, 250 grams of THC in cannabis-infused products, and 2.5 grams of concentrate. Possession of 30g to 100g is a misdemeanor if it’s your first time, and the penalty is up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine. A subsequent offense is a felony punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Home Cultivation: Only registered, qualifying patients can grow cannabis at home, and they can grow only five plants at a time. Non-patients who grow marijuana face a $200 fine.
Where Can You Consume Marijuana?
Recreational marijuana is legal, but that doesn’t mean you can light up anywhere you want. It is illegal to consume marijuana in public, and this includes streets, parks, and areas adjacent to licensed dispensaries.
You can’t consume cannabis in a vehicle even if it’s not moving. Also, it is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis.
In addition, the law says employers can establish drug-free laws, so if your workplace has a drug-free policy, you must obey it.
Why Chicago Medical Cannabis is Better – And How to Get Your MMJ Card
Even though recreational cannabis is legal in Chicago, having an IL MMJ card provides benefits that adult-use weed simply never will.
When you have an Illinois medical card, you gain access to higher-priority service, lower taxes, affordable products, and can even grow your own cannabis plants at home. You simply cannot say the same about recreational weed.
At Elevate Holistics, we make getting your MMJ card even more worthwhile, too.
Our services are incredibly affordable, and our appointments take less than 30 minutes — and you don’t even have to leave the couch.
Click here or the link below to book an appointment and begin your journey to enjoying the best of cannabis in Illinois.