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New Changes to Illinois Drug Laws Address Overdoses

 Posted on May 14, 2021 in Criminal Defense

Will County drug possession defense attorneyIt is no secret that Illinois and the rest of the country are in the grips of a major drug epidemic. It is estimated that the United States is losing more than 80,000 victims each year to drug overdoses. Because Illinois still treats drug possession of any amount of controlled substances as a criminal offense, victims who are overdosing or friends who are with them at the time may be hesitant to call 911 for help because they are afraid they will be arrested. Fortunately, a new Illinois law may save lives in these situations.

Illinois HB 158

Naloxone is an emergency antidote that is used in opioid overdoses. When a person is suffering an overdose, a shot of naloxone can literally save their life. Emergency responders can administer naloxone if they are called to the scene of an overdose in time. A new law that recently went into effect in Illinois removes any risk of punishment for a small amount of drug possession if a person is seeking help for a drug overdose. This will ensure that a person can call 911 and receive emergency assistance without the fear of facing criminal charges. Lawmakers and law enforcement officials who support the new law say their goal is to enable people who are struggling with drug addiction to get the help they need.

Under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, drugs are broken down into five different schedules. Opioids and opium derivatives fall into the Schedule I class. About 80 percent of all fatal overdoses that happen each year in Illinois involve opioids. Under the current law, possession of a Schedule I drug is charged as a Class 1 felony. A conviction comes with a minimum of one year in jail and hefty fines.

Prior to the passage of HB 158, a person calling 911 for help because a person was overdosing faced the risk of being arrested on felony charges. With the passage of this law, people who are struggling can reach out for help and know they will not be punished.

Contact a Joliet, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

The recent change in Illinois drug laws indicates that lawmakers and law enforcement have begun to recognize that drug addiction is an illness and not a crime. However, the language in the current Illinois Controlled Substances Act shows that there is still a long way to go to ensure that people are not unfairly charged with drug-related offenses. If you have been charged with drug possession or any other drug crimes, contact McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC. Our skilled Will County drug crimes attorneys can help you determine the legal options you may have as you defend against these charges. Call our office today at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.





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