Illinois adopts medical marijuana law

August 8, 2013

Illinois has become the 21st state to legalize some form of medical marijuana with the establishment of a 4-year pilot program that targets patients with chronic pain and debilitating conditions such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, and HIV.

Illinois has become the 21st state to legalize some form of medical marijuana with the establishment of a 4-year pilot program that targets patients with chronic pain and debilitating conditions such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, and HIV.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act is described as one of the most-restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country. It was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on August 1 and will take effect in 2014.

“This new law will provide relief and help eligible patients ease their suffering, while making sure Illinois has the nation’s strictest safeguards to prevent abuse,” Quinn said.

Under the pilot program, doctors with patients suffering from one of 35 chronic conditions will be authorized to issue certifications for the drug. Patients will be required to apply for a registry identification card that will track how much marijuana they buy.  Patients will not be able to buy more than 2.5 ounces within 14 days.

Patients will be able to buy the marijuana from up to 60 dispensing centers throughout the state. The marijuana will be grown at 22 cultivation centers throughout Illinois. Patients will not be allowed to grow their own. 

Patients wishing to be part of the program must meet various other regulations. For example, the physician and patient must have an established relationship; and minors and people with felony drug convictions or psychiatric conditions will not qualify.

Police officers, firefighters, probation officers, and school bus drivers will not be eligible. Marijuana may not be used on a school bus or on school grounds, in a correctional facility, in a residence used to provide childcare, or any public place. And landlords retain the right to ban the smoking of medical cannabis on leased property.  

“Patients afflicted by the most unbearable conditions finally have a compassionate answer to their cries for help,” said Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton). “This program alleviates suffering and provides strong safeguards against abuse. We are ensuring only those suffering from the most serious diseases receive this treatment.”