Illinois 20th state to legalize marijuana use for debilitating medical conditions ~ law takes effect on January 1, 2014 and is a four-year pilot program

Governor Pat Quinn today signed into law Illinois House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which legalizes the use of marijuana for medical reasons on Jan. 1, 2014, making the Land of Lincoln the 20th state to allow marijuana for limited medical purposes, In addition, District of Columbia, also allows such use.

According to the USA Today, New Hampshire became the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana when Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law last week. Four other states — New York, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have pending legislation to legalize medical pot. Only two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The purpose of the law in Illinois and across the country is to help ease pain for people who suffer from on of 35 specific, debilitating medical conditions, including muscular dystrophy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.

Illinois brags that its law is also one of the strictest in the nation too. First, the prescribing physician and patient must have an established relationship. Minors and others with felony drug convictions or psychiatric conditions do not qualify. Patients may not be police officers, firefighters, probation officers or school bus drivers. Patients who drive while impaired by medical cannabis face the same penalties as those who drive while impaired by prescription drugs.

The law also impose restrictions on the cultivation, dispensing and use of medical marijuana. There will be 22 cultivation centers – one for each State Police District. Eligible patients may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days. There will be no more than 60 licensed dispensaries, which must comply with strict rules established by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Illinois law will not permit patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis.

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