Illinois Legalized Recreational Marijuana, But That Isn’t Stopping The Arrests

Lawmakers from the state of Illinois voted to approve recreational marijuana earlier this month, but the moment failed to arrive without the expected obnoxious resistance from opposing lawmakers. One even cooked up some eggs in a frying pan to “scientifically” represent how the brain appears when introduced to oh-so-dangerous drugs like marijuana. When the Illinois House of Representatives voted 66-47 contrary to that belief, he probably went home and knocked a few stiff ones back.

The Illinois Senate approved the measure and Governor J.B. Pritzker acknowledged his intent to sign the bill into law, which will pave the way for the legalized possession and sale of recreational marijuana on the first day of January next year. Although ten other states have so far approved similar measures to legalize the drug, Illinois is the first to approve the commercial sale of marijuana through legislative efforts alone.

The law won’t come soon enough to help Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of Chicago, though. He was recently sentenced to a whopping four years in prison after postal workers obtained a warrant to search suspicious packages arriving on his doorstep. Subsequent investigative efforts discovered he ordered 42 pounds of chocolate edibles from the great state of California, where apparently you can do anything.

The Kane County State Attorney’s office provided a statement acknowledging that Franzen had been accused of intending to sell or distribute the marijuana-laced chocolate goodies.

Will the new legislation affect this ruling, possibly overturning it sometime in the future? Probably not.

In addition to the 42 pounds of chocolate heaven, authorities found other “evidence of drug dealing” including over $2,000 in bills, postal receipts for packages he’d sent out both in the United States and abroad, and a digital scale. Oh, and cocaine. If that state decides to overturn prior marijuana-related convictions, it’s the cocaine that’ll end up keeping Franzen in prison.

Ouch. That’s got to sting.

Franzen’s attorney had previously failed to argue that he needed the 42 pounds of marijuana (and a smattering of cocaine dressing) for treatment of testicular cancer. The Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon actually took it easy on Franzen, who could have been sentenced to what would have been a mandatory 12-year minimum in accordance with the sentencing standards bound to the aforementioned crimes.

“In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition,” (and probably because they maybe thought Franzen had been running through an intense Breaking Bad marathon at the time), “our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to four years, of which he is required to serve only two years.”

Prosecutors also dropped more serious trafficking charges. All said, Franzen got off a lot easier than most would have.