Illinois Medical Marijuana Law

Illinois was the 20th state to pass medical marijuana legislation. The government recognized the treatment value of cannabis for chronic medical conditions and passed cannabis legalization legislation to make the drug available to residents.

As knowledge about cannabis's medicinal value grew and social norms evolved, Illinoisans embraced the therapy. The state government responded by expanding patient access, simplifying application requirements, and recognizing broader eligibility for treatment with cannabis.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so the ongoing evolution of marijuana laws at the state level has created some confusion. While Illinois has decriminalized cannabis possession and started selling recreational marijuana products, it has also continued to provide its medical cannabis program.

Understanding the legal distinctions between medical and recreational use can help you manage your medical condition by accessing the type of products qualifying patients are entitled to under state laws.

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Illinois Medical Marijuana Law History

Illinois passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013 and created the Medical Cannabis Registry Program, which is overseen by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The initial Illinois state cannabis law established cultivation, manufacturing, and retail standards to ensure all cannabis sold to Illinois residents was safe and effective. The state requires that all cannabis sold by dispensaries must be cultivated in Illinois.

Once that framework was established and sales began, patients rapidly adopted marijuana as an alternative treatment. As a result, there have been many updates to the state’s cannabis legislation.

Under the original legislation, medical cannabis patients underwent fingerprinting and background checks during their MMJ card applications. In 2018, based on the program's success, the state streamlined the application process and abolished the background check and fingerprint requirements. In addition, the state later abolished printed cards and began issuing electronic copies that patients could print at home.

The last major update to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program was enacted in 2018. That year, lawmakers added 12 conditions to the state’s list of qualifying debilitating conditions, expanded access for veterans, and abolished the requirement that patients designate one dispensary to shop at.

Finally, thanks to a new law in 2019, medical marijuana patients gained the right to grow five cannabis plants of their own.

Marijuana Possession Laws in Illinois

As of January 1, 2020, recreational cannabis is legal for adults who’re at least 21 years old in Illinois. Residents without marijuana cards can possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 500 milligrams of THC in edibles. Non-residents can legally possess half the amount of each form of cannabis afforded residents.

Medical marijuana card holders can possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis every 14 days. You can apply for a waiver to increase your possession limit if your physician determines your condition is unmanageable with the 2.5-ounce maximum.

Illinois Public Consumption Laws

You are allowed to consume marijuana in your home if you own it. Renters must abide by the terms of their lease. Marijuana use is illegal in motor vehicles.

Illinois considers a "public place" anywhere you can be observed by others. You cannot consume cannabis in public, around anyone under 21 years old, on school grounds, or in any place where smoking tobacco is illegal under Illinois law.

Illinois Cannabis DUI Laws

The state’s driving under the influence laws are strict. Namely, Illinois does not differentiate between medical patients and recreational users. Anyone with a THC level of 5 nanograms per millimeter of blood or higher is considered over the limit and can be charged with a DUI.

Police look for delayed reaction times and bloodshot eyes during traffic stops when there is suspicion of DUI.

Applying for A Illinois Medical Marijuana Card?

Illinois’s evolving marijuana laws may make the application process for a cannabis identification card seem daunting, but it is actually fairly straightforward and can be completed online. If you are dealing with a debilitating medical condition and have considered cannabis as a treatment option, it would be worth your while to submit an application for a medical cannabis card to the state.

Getting a marijuana card simply requires obtaining a certificate from a licensed doctor who is authorized to recommend cannabis as a treatment for your condition. You must then send an application to the DPH and provide supporting documentation to confirm your identity and residency.

Illinois healthcare providers are not required to issue certifications for cannabis. The state does not maintain a list of marijuana doctors or refer patients to clinics.

Fortunately, the Sanctuary is knowledgeable about Illinois's current marijuana policies and has the experience to help you perfect your application. We can connect you with a qualified physician who can assess your condition, explain the benefits of medical marijuana treatment, and issue a certification.

Our friendly staff is always available to answer your questions. We are happy to arrange an initial consultation to discuss how we can assist you in obtaining your card.


Recreational marijuana is legal for adults at least 21 years of age in Illinois. Both residents and non-residents can purchase and consume cannabis products. Recreational marijuana has lower purchase maximums and possession limits than medical marijuana.

Cardholders and their caregivers can purchase edibles, concentrates, cannabis flowers, topical applications, vapes, pre-rolls, and tinctures. You can only purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period for your personal use or for use by your designated patient if you are a caregiver.

Medical cannabis products come in various strains with distinct cannabinoid and terpene profiles that will affect the symptoms of your medical condition differently. Dispensary staff can advise you on the optimal type of cannabis for you.

You cannot possess more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana within a 14-day period unless you have a waiver from the DPH stating a physician has certified that you require more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis to manage your debilitating medical condition.

Possession of more than 5 marijuana plants is a felony, even for medical marijuana cardholders. You cannot ever possess another patient's medical marijuana either.

You can only possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.

No—Illinois does not accept out-of-state marijuana cards. Visitors can purchase up to 15 grams of marijuana flower, 2.5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 250 milligrams of THC in edibles under Illinois's adult-use laws.

Illinois cardholders have access to medical marijuana in Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Utah, and the District of Columbia. You are subject to your destination state’s visiting patient policy and applicable possession laws.

No—applicants must acknowledge they have not been convicted of violating state and federal controlled substance laws.