Illinois: Lawmakers Authorize Medical Marijuana Pilot Program

Illinois: Lawmakers Authorize Medical Marijuana Pilot ProgramSpringfield, IL: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 1, to establish a pilot program regulating the state-licensed production and dispensing of therapeutic cannabis to qualified patients. The measure now awaits action from Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn, who recently stated publicly that he is "open-minded" about the legislation.

If signed into law, Illinois will become the 19th state since 1996 to allow for authorized patients to possess and consume cannabis.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act allows for state-registered patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis over a 14-day period. Patients must possess a physician’s recommendation, be diagnosed with one of some 40 "debilitating medical conditions" such as cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia, and must not possess a felony drug conviction to participate in the program.

Under the proposal, patients will not be permitted to cultivate their own cannabis. Rather, the measure requires patients to obtain cannabis from one of 60 proposed, state-licensed dispensaries. These facilities will be supplied by 22 state-authorized cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation will oversee the program.

If signed into law, the pilot program will officially take effect on January 1, 2014. Because the measure contains a sunset provision, it will expire in four year from this date unless lawmakers act to extend it.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.