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Illinois Medical Marijuana Program Set to Run Through June 2020

 Posted on February 06, 2017 in Drugs and Narcotics

Chicago criminal defense attorneyIn 2013, Illinois lawmakers—led by State Representative Lou Lang, D-Skokie—passed legislation to create an experimental medical marijuana program in the state. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was signed by then-Governor Pat Quinn so that state officials could determine the effectiveness of allowing marijuana to be used in the treatment of certain illnesses and ailments. Supporters of the program were excited by the idea that eligible patients could get relief without fear of prosecution on charges related to the possession or consumption of marijuana.

Good Intentions

As a pilot program, the initial medical marijuana measure contained a sunset clause, meaning that the law would automatically be repealed four years after it went into effect on January 1, 2014. If the program was a success, new legislation would be needed to make it permanent.

Under the terms of the law as it was passed in 2013, patients who had been diagnosed with one of about 30 medical conditions could apply for participation in the program. Approved conditions included HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, ALS, and Multiple Sclerosis. Registered participants would then be permitted to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from duly licensed dispensaries whose products were grown in state-approved production facilities.

A Rocky Start

Despite the program’s listed start date of January 1, 2014, the state was nowhere near ready to allow patients to start receiving marijuana legally. There were numerous disputes over production licensing and the application process, leading to nearly two years of delays. In the meantime, the residents of Illinois elected a new governor—Republican Bruce Rauner—whose stance on medical marijuana was described as skeptical at best.

Finally, in November of 2015, patients finally were able to get the help they had been promised. The program, however, was already nearing the halfway point of its intended duration. Thus, lawmakers—again led by Rep. Lang—continued their push to have the program restored to its original four-year length.

Needed Changes

Last summer, Governer Rauner signed a new measure that extends the medical marijuana program until July 1, 2020. The bill signed by the governor also added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions. Advocates had been trying to have PTSD included in the program for some time, but state officials had refused. A Cook County judge, however, issued a ruling in June 2016 mandating PTSD to be added to the program.

As the medical marijuana program in Illinois continues to help patients with chronic conditions, the possession of more than 10 grams—about one-third of an ounce—of marijuana is a crime for those who are not part of the program. If you are facing drug possession charges, an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney can provide the guidance you need. Call 773-276-5541 for a free consultation at Luisi Legal Group today.






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