By now most people are aware that Illinois passed sweeping legislation in 2019, which decriminalized cannabis for recreational use. The law also contains provisions to prevent discrimination in certain legal proceedings. But the anti-discrimination provision is not being widely followed by courts – at least not in some parts of the state. To better understand this problem, it’s important to draw on some personal experience. As a former public defender for a rural county in Illinois, I’ve been able to observe first-hand how policy often conflicts with practice. 

Anti-Discrimination in the New Law

Built directly into the new Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, there is a provision entitled “DISCRIMINATION PROHIBITED.” It can be found at 410 ILCS 705/10-30.  The text of that section states in part:

Neither the presence of cannabinoid components or metabolites in a person’s bodily fluids nor possession of cannabis-related paraphernalia, nor conduct related to the use of cannabis or the participation in cannabis-related…

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