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The nation has been changing its stance on drugs like marijuana and, in attempting to keep up to speed, some citizens are having trouble understanding how and what drugs are still illegal in which jurisdictions and under what conditions.  In this article, we will discuss controlled dangerous substances generally in Illinois and provide a clear picture of how Illinois categorizes various drugs and what the punishments are for various levels of drug charge convictions.  If you or someone know is facing drug charges, contact a local criminal defense attorney today.


In Illinois, controlled dangerous substances are divided into five categories, called schedules.  These schedules are ranked from most to least harmful, schedule I being the worst substances and schedule V being the least dangerous substances.

  • Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse or limited physical or psychological dependence and at least one currently accepted medical use.
  • Schedule IV drugs have a little more potential for abuse than Schedule V drugs and may cause psychological and/or physical dependence.  These drugs also have an accepted medical use.
  • Schedule III drugs can lead to moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence.  These drugs have an accepted medical use.
  • Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and have an accepted medical use.  These drugs can lead to a severe psychological and/or physical dependence.
  • Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse with no medical use.  This schedule contains opiates and hallucinogenic substances.

Penalties for the possession or use of controlled dangerous substances can be Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 felonies or Class A, B, or C misdemeanors.

Depending on the drug and the amount of the drug found in your possession, the potential charges and punishments can vary. Indeed, the following describes the penalties associated with various commonly used drugs in Illinois:

  • Heroin, morphine, cocaine: possessing heroin, morphine, or cocaine can be punishable by incarceration at varying lengths depending on how many grams you were convicted of having, usually ranging between 4 and 50 years.  Between 15 and 99 grams can cost you between 4 and 15 years in prison, 100-399 grams ranges between 6 and 30 years while 400-899 grams can require between 8 and 40 years and 900 grams or more can require between 10 and 50 years..  720 ILCS 570/402  While the prison time may seem steep, the financial penalties can include a fine of up to $200,000 or the street value of the drugs; the greater of the two will be the financial penalty.
  • Marijuana: depending on the amount of cannabis in your possession, the punishment for possession of marijuana will vary. For up to 2.5 grams of cannabis or any substance that contains it, the proper charge is a Class C misdemeanor and the punishment can be up to 30 days of incarceration with a fine of no more than $1,500.  If you possess between 2.5 grams and 10 grams of cannabis, this is considered a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,500.  Between 10 and 30 grams will be a Class A misdemeanor and will be punishable by less than one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500.  Amounts over 30 grams of cannabis fall into felony categories; between 30 and 500 grams is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years of incarceration), between 500 and 2,000 grams is a Class 3 felony (2-5 years incarceration) and anything more than 5,000 grams is a Class 1 felony (4-15 years of incarceration).  Felony convictions for marijuana possession may be punishable with a fine of up to $25,000 in addition to the incarceration time.

Drug charges can range and so can their punishments.  When your future is up in the air, your defense should be a strong one.  Make sure that you have the strongest defense in the form of the strongest defense attorney.  Contact The Law Offices of Eugene Fimbianti for the best local criminal defense help today.