SPRINGFIELD, IL — When the Illinois legislature passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in May, it capped a decade-long push for medical marijuana in the state, and even though it creates only a temporary medical marijuana pilot program, medical marijuana advocates called the bill a “great first step.”
Illinois patients needed only the signature of Democrat Governor Pat Quinn on the pages of House Bill 1 for medical marijuana to begin moving towards reality, making Illinois the 19th medical marijuana state, even if it is only for four years.
But medical marijuana patients are still waiting, nearly three months later, for Gov. Quinn’s signature, despite indications that the Governor supports the bill.
At a press conference following the legislature’s passage of the bill in May, Gov. Quinn addressed the issue of medical marijuana and the pending bill, sympathizing with with the plight of veterans who will benefit under House Bill 1.
“It’s an important bill,” said Gov. Quinn. “I’m going to look at the bill from top to bottom, as we do every bill. But I’m very open minded on this.”
Since then, Quinn has remained silent, and House Bill 1 remains unsigned.
Illinois patients, who have waited over a decade for the legislature to allow medical marijuana, may not have to wait much longer for the bill to become law, however. Under Illinois law, if the Governor fails to sign or veto a bill within 60 days of receiving it from the legislature, the bill automatically becomes law.
House Bill 1 was sent to the Governor’s desk on June 5, and the clock is ticking.
In less than two weeks, on August 4, the 60 days are up. On Monday, August 5, 2013, Illinois becomes the 19th medical marijuana state, at least for four years.
House Bill 1 would allow people suffering from specific medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Qualified patients would be able to obtain marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries, which would acquire marijuana from up to 22 cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation would regulate the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana.
Under the four-year pilot program outlined in the Illinois bill, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of 33 debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV/AIDS in order to qualify for medical marijuana. Patients must register with the state’s health department and have written certification from their physicians.
Patients will be limited to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana every two weeks. The marijuana must be grown in Illinois, kept in a closed container, and not used in public or in front of minors.
Those who use, grow or sell medical marijuana must be fingerprinted and undergo background checks during the application process. Patients suspected of driving under the influence face the loss of not only their driving privileges, but also their medical marijuana cards.
Illinois Medical Marijuana Patients Continue to Wait for Gov. Quinn’s Signature on HB 1 was written by Scott Gacek and appears in full on The Daily Chronic.
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