Questions abound on medical marijuana in Illinois

2013-08-05T05:30:00Z Questions abound on medical marijuana in IllinoisThe Associated Press The Associated Press
August 05, 2013 5:30 am  • 

CHICAGO — Illinois has become the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana, with some of the strictest standards in the nation. But the proposal will take many months to set into motion because of complex rules and regulations. Here’s a closer look at the details:

Q: When will medical marijuana be available for purchase in Illinois?

A: No one knows for sure, but estimates are several months to more than a year after the law takes effect Jan. 1. That’s because three state agencies, the departments of Public Health, Agriculture and Financial and Professional Regulation, must draft rules for patients, growers and dispensaries. Then the rules must be approved by a legislative committee. Next comes issuing permits and setting up the 22 so-called cultivation centers where the plants will be grown. They’ll be set up in each Illinois State Police district, and state authorities will review security plans. The marijuana will be sold in up to 60 dispensaries. Nineteen other states and Washington, D.C., have implemented medical marijuana laws but implementation time has varied greatly. The longest was Washington, D.C., where medical marijuana was available for purchase just last month, 15 years after voters approved. Maine took less than a year. New Jersey took about three years and still only one dispensary is open in the state.

Q: Who will be able to obtain marijuana?

A: Only seriously ill patients who have a longstanding relationship with a doctor will be able to apply for a state ID card. The new law specifically lists dozens of qualifying illnesses and diseases, including lupus, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis. Patients will be limited to 2.5 ounces every two weeks. No one under 18 years old will be eligible.

Q: Can people be arrested for having medical marijuana?

A: Patients who are registered with the state can’t be arrested or charged for using medical marijuana, if they’re using it in compliance with the law. However, employers still can maintain drug policies in the workplace, meaning someone using medical marijuana could face consequences for failing a drug test.

Q: What makes Illinois’ new law so tough?

A: The state will require background checks for patients, caregivers and all staff members at dispensaries and growing centers. Cultivation centers will be under 24-hour video surveillance. Illinois won’t allow it to be grown at home, and there’s no reciprocity with other states that allow medical marijuana.

Q: Were there efforts to fight this bill?

A: Yes. Some anti-crime groups have expressed concerns that medical marijuana could lead to an increase in nonmedical use, particularly among teens. The nongovernmental Chicago Crime Commission, which examines crime trends, says marijuana could end up in the wrong hands. Police also have opposed the measure, saying it complicates field sobriety testing.

Q: Will this create new jobs and businesses?

A: State and industry officials say yes. Quinn’s office estimates hundreds of new jobs, with staff members at each growing center and dispensary. Industry officials started gearing up for legalized medical marijuana even before Quinn signed it. The National Cannabis Industry Association has planned a symposium later this month for potential investors and business owners. They include Genifer Murray, who runs Denver-based CannLabs Inc. Her business provides potency testing, so people know how much to use. She wants to expand her business in Illinois.

“I am just a big fan of this plant, for all kinds of things,” she said. “I want to go to every place I can to help spread the correct information about cannabis.”

Q: Will Illinois legalize marijuana for recreational use?

A: Not any time soon. Illinois’ new law for medical marijuana is for a four-year pilot program; lawmakers will have to vote on it again to make it permanent. Advocates have focused on the bill’s strict guidelines for very sick people. When asked about the potential for recreational use, Quinn said the focus right now is medical and “patient-centered.”

“This is the right thing to do for today and that’s what I’m focused on,” he said. “I think that’s the best way to go.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. LAURAMATT
    Report Abuse
    LAURAMATT - January 19, 2014 4:10 am
    IT STILL FEELS LIKE A DREAM TO ME, I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE I AM ALIVE, HEALTHY AND STRONG LIKE NEVER BEFORE. GOD IS REALLY GREAT.

    AM LAURA MATTHEW BY NAME, I WAS DIAGNOSED OF BREAST CANCER THREE YEARS AGO WHEN I HAD MY LAST BABY.

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    HE GAVE MY LIFE A NEW MEANING AND AM ALIVE NOW ALL BECAUSE OF HIM, SIR GOD WILL CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FOR YOUR GOOD WORK AND WORDS OF TRUTH. THANK YOU SIR.

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  2. WilliamT
    Report Abuse
    WilliamT - September 21, 2013 8:49 am
    It's a hot topic for sure, and it will be interesting to see how long it takes from January 1st to when clinics, dispensaries, etc are up and productive. Nice tax structure that was placed on it.. will definitely help to make an impact, even a small one, on the horrific debt this State holds.

    It's a crime that the pharmaceutical companies have such insanely deep pockets that they influence Capitol Hill, and therefore, can legally sell drugs with crazy harmful side effects. They already know how legalized medical marijuana on a national scale would cripple their profits.

    The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and
    Human Services, even filed patent 6630507 touting the the LONG LIST OF BENEFITS of
    medical marijuana. OUR GOVERNMENT KNOWS OF THE EFFICACY AND BENEFITS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA, yet it's swept under the rug.

    Just another example of NOT doing what's right for this country's citizens, but rather what's in the legislator's best private interest. and agenda It's ridiculous, and it sucks.

    I found this website and subscribed to their free newsletter to keep updated as to the development(s) in IL. www.IllinoisMedicalMarijuanaNetwork.com.

    Really hope it works, for so many people.
  3. joe k
    Report Abuse
    joe k - August 18, 2013 12:10 pm
    Its about time, now if we can get people to use pot rather then Alcohol, crime would decrease, women and child abuse would decline rapidly especially from drunk Priest . "most of those individuals are under the influence of LIQUOR". Wake up and smell the POT !
    Don't drink and beat your wife Smoke a joint . What about a parallel LAW...Medical Alcohol???



  4. mrslrichard
    Report Abuse
    mrslrichard - August 06, 2013 9:27 am
    I am a hardcore advocate of legalization and went to my first rally while still in the womb. Illinois just becoming the 20th state to approve a medicinal marijuana prototype program is long overdue and I want to help with the transition to this program by helping people learn about it by getting awareness out there. This movement means a lot to me fir as a critically ill person with at least 8 of the ailments on the approval list I not only believe in this program morally, spiritually, politically and financially I need this progra medically as well. For people like me this means the difference between my just waiting to die painfully and living my life actually living. The medicinal marijuana program will not just make a difference in my life, it will make my whole quality of life better.
  5. mpmp
    Report Abuse
    mpmp - August 06, 2013 8:43 am
    I was wondering what a background check for a patient is for. So lets say a convicted felon is in need of using medical marijuana for treatment BUT they will be denied and be unable to be treated because they are a felon?????? So this person has one of the qualifying conditions yet cant get this as a form of treatment. I understand not allowing a felon to run a dispensary actually a person who has sold marijuana in the past may be more qualified to run such a business. im just saying Illinois wants to always go over the top on being so HARD our state is in such debt we top the list of states who are a mess finically we need all the money we can get and not by continuing to lock people up for minor stuff, either.
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