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medical marijuana, Kane County criminal defense attorneyDespite taking nearly two years to get underway, the medical marijuana test program is off and running around Illinois. State officials are reporting that February was the program’s best month to date, with sales numbers approaching $1.5 last month. This brings total sales revenue to more than $4.4 million since the statewide program launched on November 9, 2015.

Increased Availability

When sales of medical marijuana first began in November, it started on a very small scale, with only a handful of registered dispensaries open for business. Today, the number of licensed retail outlets in the state has more than quadrupled, with 29 dispensaries now open, including two that just opened their doors in February. Most notably, one of the largest facilities in the state began operation in Springfield last month, making medical marijuana legally available in the state capital for the first time.

Growing Registration Lists

Joseph Wright, the director of the medical marijuana program—officially called the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program—announced that more than 3,000 individuals purchased products in February. He also indicated that about 4,800 patients have been approved for the program, meaning that only about 63 percent of registered users made purchases.

To qualify for participation, a patient must have been diagnosed with one of approximately three dozen medical conditions set forth in the law, including:

  • Cancer;
  • Glaucoma;
  • HIV or AIDS;
  • Hepatitis C;
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Muscular dystrophy;
  • Traumatic brain injury; and
  • Many more.

Several efforts over the last few months to add additional qualifying conditions to the approved list have been unsuccessful. Depending on the program’s perceived success, however, future consideration may be given to expanding the list.

Unlicensed Use Still a Crime

Along with the efforts to widen the participant base, initiatives in Springfield also sought to decriminalize minor marijuana possession, making the offense similar to a traffic ticket. While the bill did successfully pass the House and Senate, it was amended by Governor Bruce Rauner and sent back, essentially stalling the measure for now. This means that possession of marijuana without a valid medical marijuana registration card is against the law. Depending on the amount and your suspected intentions, potential penalties for a conviction can range from probation and fines up to significant prison terms.

If you have been arrested and charged with possession or distribution of marijuana, it is important to seek qualified legal counsel immediately. Contact an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney today to explore your available options. Call 847-488-0889 for a free, confidential consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today. Do not delay; your future may depend on it.

Sources:

http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2016/03/01/illinois-medical-marijuana-sales-nearly-1-5m-in-february/

http://foxillinois.com/news/local/medical-marijuana-dispensary-opens-in-springfield-02-16-2016

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3503

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Posted on in Drug Crimes

drug court, Illinois law, Elgin Criminal Defense AttorneyJudges, prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, and lawmakers recognize the problems drug addiction causes in our communities. Many Illinois counties, including DuPage County and Cook County, are turning to drug courts to help addicts, improve neighborhoods, and take pressure off the criminal justice system. Drug courts work inside of the normal criminal court system, but give defendants the chances to avoid going to jail, and sometimes even a criminal conviction. It also provides the tools to help the defendant overcome addiction.

Who is Eligible for Drug Court?

Drug court is for non-violent defendants charged with certain drug offenses. Each county has a different set of rules about who is eligible for drug court and most courts require a defendant to apply for the program. During the application process, the case criminal case is still active, but the proceedings are postponed. A certified professional will evaluate a defendant during the application process.

 A defendant’s criminal history, the current offense being charged, and the recommendation of the evaluator all play a role in being accepted into drug court. If accepted, a defendant may be required to plead guilty to the charges against him or her and must agree to the terms of the drug court, including cooperating with treatment and monitoring.

What Are the Drug Court Conditions?

The defendant will first have to cooperate with a detailed drug addiction assessment. Once in the program, the defendant will need to comply with the recommended treatment. This can include either inpatient or outpatient treatment. There are random drug tests, regular reporting to a probation officer or case officer, and regular reporting to the drug court. The defendant is also not to commit any more crimes.

If any conditions are not met, the defendant can be sanctioned, including jail time or the lengthening the drug court supervision period. For some actions, the defendant can be taken out of the drug court program and convicted of the crime for which he or she was originally charged and sent to jail or prison.

What Happens After Drug Court?

Depending on the county and the case, if a defendant successfully completes drug court the charges against him or her may be dismissed. In some instances the conviction will remain, but the resulting sentence will be drastically reduced and often includes no prison or jail time.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, you need to talk to an experienced Elgin drug crimes defense lawyer right away. Do not talk to anyone about your case until you have spoken with an attorney. Call the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

Sources:

http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/methnet/fightmeth/courts.html
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Illinois RICO Act, Kane County criminal law attorneyA DuPage County jury recently became the first jury in the county to convict a person under a recently-passed Illinois law designed to combat gang violence. The man was convicted of being part of a drug ring operating throughout the county. Other alleged members of the drug ring are currently awaiting trial.

The Illinois law that the man was convicted under is known as the Illinois Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, but is often shortened to Illinois' RICO. The law is modeled after a federal law that was supposed to give police and prosecutors more advanced tools to deal with the more sophisticated types of organized crime that have arisen recently. Illinois' RICO has a similar goal, with a particular focus on making it easier to shut down street gangs. However, these laws can also be controversial. Despite their positive goals, some people believe that they make it too easy for prosecutors to threaten stiff penalties for people with little relation to the gang's activities.

Illinois' RICO Law

Illinois' RICO law is designed to combat groups engaging in criminal activity, which the law refers to as "enterprises." An enterprise is any group of people who are "associated in fact" to engage in some conduct. The phrase associated in fact means that the group need not be a formal group, such as a club or a company. Something like a street gang, which is an informal organization, would count as well, as long as it is (1) an ongoing group, (2) has various members functioning as a unit, and (3) has an ascertainable structure beyond simply being a group engaging in conduct.

In order to violate RICO the conduct the group engages in must be a "pattern of predicate activity." Predicate activity is legal jargon for certain specific crimes. The list of crimes in the law is long, but some examples include homicide, robbery, street gang recruitment, and the sale of drugs. In order to be a pattern, there must be at least three separate, but related, acts within three years of each other.

RICO Controversy

While many prosecutors celebrate this law as providing tools necessary to clean up street gangs, there are also concerns about the power this gives to police and prosecutors. RICO violations come with serious penalties, such as a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 30 years, which are placed on top of the sentences for the underlying crimes that made up the predicate acts. This means that someone only vaguely related to the gang or running minor errands can end up facing penalties that are disproportionate from their crimes.

If you have recently been charged with RICO violations or some other crime, reach out to an Kane County criminal defense attorney today. Our firm is here to help you defend your rights.

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Avvo Illinois State Bar Association Kane COunty Bar Association
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