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Governor approves medical use of marijuana

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law Thursday, Aug. 1, the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which provides a process for an individual who suffers from a debilitating condition to register with the state in order to obtain cannabis (marijuana) for medical use.

The Act states that studies have demonstrated the therapeutic value of cannabis in treating pain, nausea and other symptoms associated with a wide array of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation removing state-level criminal penalties from the medical use and cultivation of cannabis.

The purpose of the Act is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties and property forfeiture if the patients engage in the medical use of cannabis. “Medical use” means the acquisition; administration; delivery; possession; transfer; transportation; or use of cannabis to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the patient’s qualifying condition. It is important to note that the law will not be fully implemented until April 2014, when several state agencies are required to have rules in place.

How a patient may obtain cannabis for medical use

A patient with a qualifying condition or a designated care giver must comply with requirements of this Act and rules that will be promulgated to implement it, in order to obtain a designated amount of cannabis for medical use. In general, the procedure is:

  • A physician signs a written certification that a patient (18 years or older) has a qualifying condition and that, in the physician’s professional opinion, cannabis may help the patient.
  • Patient or caregiver applies to state for a registration card and the state issues the card.
  • A qualifying patient or designated caregiver with a registration card may purchase up to 2.5 oz. of cannabis from a registered dispensing organization/agent every 14 days, unless the patient receives a waiver to purchase a larger amount.
  • The dispensing organization may purchase only from a medical cannabis cultivation center that is registered with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.