Illinois’s Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June, 2019, comprehensively reformed Illinois marijuana laws to allow for the possession, use, sale, distribution and cultivation of cannabis by adults 21 and older. On the question of marijuana paraphernalia, however, what’s now permitted and what remains illegal isn’t so clear.
Illinois’ Drug Paraphernalia Control Act prohibits any device or equipment intended for unlawful “planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, retesting, analyzing, containing, storing, sealing, injecting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the body a controlled substance in violation of the law.”
While cannabis is now legal in Illinois, the complication arises, according to attorney Kevin O’Flaherty, largely from the fact that paraphernalia used for marijuana – such as vaporizers, pipes and bongs – could equally be used for substances which are illegal.
“A device that is used for cannabis could also be used for cocaine or some other controlled substance. Sure, we could argue that certain devices, such as syringes are pretty clear cut in their use, but certain types of pipes could certainly be used to smoke different types of controlled substances,” O’Flaherty wrote in a blog post for his law firm. “This raises the question, ‘How is law enforcement supposed to know the paraphernalia’s original purpose?’”
And getting on the wrong side of Illinois’ drug paraphernalia laws comes with heavy consequences. Simple possession is a Class A misdemeanor that could result in up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Selling such paraphernalia is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000. If the sale is to a minor, this increases to a Class 3 felony with 2 to 5 years in jail, while sales to pregnant women are considered a Class 2 felony with the prospect of 3 to 7 years jail time.
O’Flaherty notes though that some of the language specific to marijuana paraphernalia has been “removed or stricken through.”
This means that while anyone found by law enforcement with drug paraphernalia could theoretically still face arrest. If it’s clear the device is used solely for cannabis within the state’s legal limits, then there should be no reason to presume it’s been used for a controlled substance. Still, O’Flaherty recommends the best way to avoid interactions with the police over drug paraphernalia is to limit your use of cannabis to areas where it is legal to do so, and that if you need to transport marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia then you should keep them in the trunk to make clear that you don’t intend to consume it inside your vehicle.
Illinois, like other states where marijuana is now legal, is still in its infancy with regards to the post-prohibition era, so it can be hard to predict exactly how the law will be interpreted by those enforcing it. Until more is known about how Illinois law enforcement and the courts react to drug paraphernalia used solely for cannabis, it’s best to err on the side of caution and make sure you don’t have such devices visibly on display in public.