Agencies prepare for new Illinois medical marijuana law

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

Illinois has now joined 19 other states as legislation adopted last year legalizing medical marijuana went into effect Jan. 1.

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is overseen by the Illinois Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and Department of Financial and Professional Responsibilities, which will regulate the state’s 82 marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries when they open later this year.

Regulating agencies have 120 days to develop official rules and file them with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a bipartisan legislative oversight committee that will review the rules and conduct a public comment period.

Spokesmen for the Marijuana Policy Project expect the process to be completed by April 1.

“We hope state officials will work swiftly to ensure seriously ill patients no longer face legal penalties for using medical marijuana,” said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Illinois patients and their families have already waited long enough.”

Under the pilot program, patients suffering from serious illnesses are permitted to obtain 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days with a doctor’s recommendation. Some patients may qualify for higher amounts, depending on their illness and condition at time of application. Patients must be registered and approved by the Department of Public Health to avoid arrest for marijuana possession.

“Once this system is in place, seriously ill people who benefit from medical marijuana will finally have legal and reliable access to their medicine,” Lindsey added.

Qualifying illnesses

Following is a list of qualifying illnesses under the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

The medical conditions are: cancer; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Crohn’s disease; agitation of Alzheimer’s disease; cachexia/wasting syndrome; muscular dystrophy; severe fibromyalgia; spinal cord disease; Tarlov cysts; hydromyelia; syringomyelia; spinal cord injury; traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome; multiple sclerosis; Arnold Chiarimalformation; spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA); Parkinson’s disease; Tourette’s syndrome; myoclonus; dystonia; reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD); causalgia; CRPS; neurofibromatosis; chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; Sjogren’s syndrome; lupus; interstitial cystitis; myasthenia gravis; hydrocephalus; nail patella syndrome; residual limb pain; or the treatment of these conditions.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed the medical marijuana bill into law Aug. 1 with the support of more than 270 doctors, the Illinois Nurses Association and Illinois State Bar Association. Other states with similar legislation include Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

Cultivation and possession of marijuana for recreational use is legal (some permits required) in Colorado and Washington state.

More information about Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is available at the program’s website at

From the Jan. 8-14, 2014, issue

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