Is Weed Legal in Illinois?

Yes. Both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in the Land of Lincoln.


Illinois passed its first cannabis legislation, outlawing recreational marijuana, in 1931 during the height of federal marijuana prohibition. Cannabis use remained illegal under Illinois marijuana laws until the Cannabis Control Act of 1978. While this Illinois marijuana bill technically legalized medical cannabis, the Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Police never crafted regulations. Finally, in 2013, Illinois passed its first viable medical cannabis law.


In 2016, Illinois decriminalized marijuana possession with less than 10 grams incurring a $100 to 200 fine. Under the new Illinois marijuana law, small-time possession of cannabis is no longer a misdemeanor. 


Illinois marijuana legalization passed on June 25, 2019 when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 1438 to legalize cannabis for adult use, making the state the 11th in the nation to do so. With Senate floor amendment 2, Illinois became the first state in history to legalize cannabis usage via legislation rather than public referendum. The landmark legalization also triggered expungement of hundreds of thousands of records of cannabis possession under 30 grams prior to legalization. The legislation formally goes into effect and sales begin on January 1, 2020, though current medical dispensaries will be able to serve the new adult market if they are waiting for their finalized adult-use license. With the exception of medical patients, adult-use marijuana in Illinois will be allowed only to those 21 and older.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Illinois?

In August 2013, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. This bill legalized the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana in the state and charged the departments of Public Health (DPH), Agriculture, and Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) with composing the rules necessary to implement the pilot program.


Dispensaries began their first sales to qualified patients in November 2015. Recent legislative changes have opened up the program to many more patients.


The law has been amended to extend the expiration of the pilot program to July 1, 2020, allowing state agencies more time to finalize the program’s  rules. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner also signed legislation that allowed minors younger than 18 to use medical cannabis; added seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and terminal illness to the list of qualifying conditions; and allowed people with opioid prescriptions to qualify for medical cannabis use. This came despite a provision that one could petition the Department of Public Health to add qualifying conditions to the act. 


Regulation Authority 

The Illinois Department of Public Health regulates the medical marijuana program on behalf of patients, caregivers, and physicians. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is responsible for regulating dispensing centers, of which 55 operate statewide. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has licensed 22 cultivation centers throughout the state.

Purchasing Cannabis in Illinois

Registered patients and caregivers may legally purchase medical cannabis at a dispensing center. Medical patients are responsible for a 1% pharmaceutical tax, while cultivators and dispensaries must pay a 7% wholesale tax per sale. Patients and caregivers may purchase up to 2. ounces (70.9 grams) of usable cannabis per 14-day period.


Qualifying patients may purchase medical cannabis only from their chosen dispensary, as indicated in their initial registry application form. A patient can change their selected dispensary at any time free of charge by completing the Medical Cannabis Selection Form

Consuming Cannabis 

Only patients with a valid medical marijuana registry ID card may consume cannabis for medical use. Patients may use cannabis flower, edibles, tinctures, concentrates, drinks, capsules, topicals, and oils as valid consumption methods.


Cannabis consumption is prohibited in any public place or where it would reasonably endanger the health or well-being of another person. Patients are prohibited from consuming cannabis on school grounds, with the exception of minors who may bring their medicine to school and consume under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or caregiver.


Patients may not use their cannabis inside public transportation vehicles or facilities, in public parks, or at beaches. Cannabis use is prohibited in the workplace, as well as in correctional facilities or medical facilities.


Consuming marijuana before operating any vehicle or before undertaking tasks that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice will subject violators to similar penalties as alcohol-related driving-under-the-influence (DUI) offenses. A cannabis task force has until July 2020 to determine what levels of consumption constitute impairment. 

Possessing Medical Cannabis 

Patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces (70.9 grams) of cannabis or cannabis products during any 14-day period. Medical marijuana cardholders can transport cannabis inside secured, sealed containers that are inaccessible while driving. Neither drivers nor passengers may consume cannabis inside a vehicle.


Schools, employers, and landlords cannot refuse to enroll, employ, or lease an apartment to a medical marijuana consumer solely based on their status as a patient or caregiver.


Patients may not give away medical cannabis. Caregivers can purchase or possess cannabis medicine on behalf of their designated patient only.


Possessing Recreational Cannabis

As of Jan. 1, 2020, possession limits for adults over the age of 21 will be:

  • 30 grams of raw cannabis flower
  • No more than 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrates

Is Home Cultivation Allowed in Illinois?

All cannabis medicine must be sold and distributed through licensed dispensing centers. Patients and caregivers may not cultivate their own cannabis or manufacture cannabis products.


As of Jan. 1, 2020, cultivation for personal use will be allowed for adults 21 and over who are growing from seeds purchased at a dispensary. Regulations require that cultivation must be:

  • In an enclosed, locked space
  • Contain no more than five plants more than five inches tall
  • Be grown out of public view 
  • Occur only on residential property owned by the cultivator or with consent of the owner

Getting Your Illinois Medical Marijuana Card

The Illinois Department of Public Health oversees the state’s Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program. Patients must be at least 18 years old and not hold a school bus driver permit or commercial driver’s license. A patient may not be an active duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, or firefighter. Patients can visit the DPH’s website, email the department directly, or call a representative of the Medical Cannabis Program during weekdays for more information.

Qualifying Conditions

The most current list of qualifying conditions is available on the Illinois Department of Health website

Patient Qualifications

Patients must be residents of Illinois and remain so during their participation in the medical cannabis program. Patients must have one of the qualifying conditions and obtain a written certification from a recommending physician licensed to practice medicine in Illinois. This form is provided to patients as a part of their complete application for a medical cannabis registry card.


Veterans receiving care from the Veterans Affairs (VA) office don’t need to submit a physician’s certification. Instead, they must provide medical records from the VA facility documenting the last 12 months of treatment. These records can be requested electronically or by mail and must be submitted with the patient’s medical marijuana application form.


Minor medical marijuana patients must first obtain a physician’s certification that confirms the patient has a qualifying medical condition. A reviewing physician must then review the patients’ medical history and confirm the patient was correctly diagnosed. Both forms must be submitted with a minor’s complete medical cannabis registry application.


Minors may designate one caregiver at no charge on their own application and may add a second one by submitting a caregiver application and a $75 fee. Minors may only use cannabis-infused products.

Registry Process

  1. Obtain a written certification from a doctor to confirm the diagnosis of a qualifying condition.
  2. Complete and sign the state’s medical cannabis application form. This form requires prospective patients to choose the dispensary they will visit and designate a caregiver, as needed. Patients can change their chosen dispensary at a later date.
  3. Pay an application fee. Prospective patients pay $100 for a one-year card, $200 for a two-year card, or $250 for a three-year card. The Department of Public Health has halved these amounts for veterans and patients with disabilities.
  4. Include a passport-size photo taken in front of a plain white background.
  5. Prove Illinois residency with two separate documents. Copies of utility bills, bank statements, state IDs, driver’s licenses, and voter ID cards are acceptable forms of proof.
  6. Prove age and identity with a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID.
  7. Include a caregiver application, the accompanying fee, and other forms if a patient requires a caregiver.
  8. If patients are being treated at a VA facility, they can send 12 months of medical records from the VA in the place of a physician’s written certification.

As of August 2018, patients with a prescription for opioids can apply for the medical marijuana program online with a doctor’s written certification. These patients will receive a temporary receipt, which they can present to a dispensary to buy medical cannabis while their applications are in process.

Caregiver Qualifications

A registered caregiver is someone licensed to assist a registered patient with the purchase and use of medical cannabis. 

Caregivers must carry a medical cannabis registry card.

Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and residents of Illinois who agree, in writing, to assist the patient. They must submit to a background check and cannot have any previous felony convictions. Registered caregivers may serve only one patient at a time, and cannot receive compensation for their services.

Caregiver Registry process

  1. Submit a caregiver application either with the designated patient’s application submission or independently at a later date.
  2. Pay an application fee. A one-year registry card costs $25, a two-year card costs $50, or a three-year card costs $75. Any caregiver registering after a patient has received their registry card will pay a $75 application fee for a card that expires at the same time as the patient’s.
  3. Include a passport-size photo taken in front of a plain white background.
  4. Prove Illinois residency with two separate documents. Copies of utility bills, bank statements, state IDs, driver’s licenses and voter ID cards are acceptable forms of identification.
  5. Prove age and identity with a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID.
  6. Provide a fingerprint receipt, with fingerprint scan completed within 30 days of submitting the caregiver application.

Who Can Provide a Medical Cannabis Recommendation?

Physicians are responsible for providing written certifications that confirm that a patient has a qualifying debilitating condition that qualifies him or her for medical cannabis use. 


To provide a written certification, physicians must complete a full, in-person assessment of the patient’s medical history and qualifying condition in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship. The written certification must also state that the patient is in the physician’s continuing care for the treatment of the qualifying debilitating condition.

Does Illinois Allow Reciprocity? 

State law requires that a patient must be a resident of Illinois to hold a medical marijuana registry ID card and to purchase medical cannabis products from a dispensing center. Out-of-state patients are ineligible to buy medical marijuana products. Dispensing centers may sell cannabis only to cardholders of the Illinois Medical Marijuana Registry Program.


As of Jan. 1, 2020, non-residents of Illinois may possess:

  • 15 grams of cannabis flower.
  • 2.5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
  • 250 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products.

Lab Testing 

All cannabis and cannabis-infused products must be made available for lab testing as required by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Cannabis and cannabis products must be tested for cannabinoid profiles, pesticides, microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, and residual solvents.

Other Types of Cannabis Licenses

Licenses for dispensing centers and cultivation centers are regulated by separate authorities within Illinois. The IDFPR granted licenses to 55 medical marijuana dispensaries across the state, many of which are located in the Chicago area. 


Additionally, the Department of Agriculture permitted 21 cultivation centers to grow marijuana legally. Cultivation centers may sell or distribute cannabis products only to licensed dispensing centers or approved testing laboratories.


At this time, Illinois is not granting additional licenses to prospective dispensaries or cultivation centers. In the beginning phases of the medical marijuana pilot program, dispensing centers and cultivation centers had to submit application forms and be approved for licenses. 


Existing cultivation centers must renew their licenses annually and submit a renewal fee of $100,000. Existing dispensing centers must renew their license annually and submit a renewal fee of $25,000. All employees of both cultivation centers and dispensing centers must hold the corresponding agent identification card, procured through the state application.


This page was last verified and updated Jan. 1, 2020.