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The Status of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, January 15, 2015

medical marijuana in Illinois, Arlington Heights drug defense lawyerOne of the most controversial issues currently facing politics is the legalization of marijuana. Some states have gone so far as to completely legalize it, allowing recreational use of the drug. Other states, along with the federal government, have left it totally illegal. Illinois has chosen the middle ground of allowing the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. Illinois' medical marijuana law was signed in 2013, and it creates a framework for how to regulate the use of marijuana. However, there have recently been delays in the implementation of that framework, meaning that even though medical marijuana is technically legal, it is still inaccessible to Illinois residents.

General Rules

The Illinois medical marijuana law sets up both a legal framework for patients who possess marijuana, as well as for growers and distributors. Patients may apply for a medical marijuana card if they have one of almost 40 qualifying illnesses, including Parkinson's, cancer, and glaucoma. In order to get a medical marijuana card, people must also be residents of Illinois who are over the age of 18 and who do not have a criminal record.

As far as a growth and distribution framework, the law allows for 22 businesses to receive licenses to actually grow marijuana. One of these businesses will be located in each state police district. The law also authorizes a set of 60 licenses for distributors who will purchase the marijuana from the growers and sell it throughout the state. Additionally, the law creates a new 16 member board for the addition of new qualifying illnesses to the list of diseases that would allow someone to receive medical marijuana.

Recent Delays

Despite the fact that the law went into effect at the beginning of 2014, it has been plagued with implementation delays. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, state agencies spent almost a full year just developing the regulations to manage this program. So far, only 650 patients have been given their medical marijuana cards, and the numbers on the business side are even less encouraging.

Many people were hoping that Governor Quinn would award the licenses for the growers and distributors before he left office. However, that did not happen. That means that it will be up to Governor Rauner to make the decision about future licensing. Governor Quinn did make some appointments to the board that will decide about adding new illnesses before he left office, but he also left some spaces open for Governor Rauner to make more appointments.

Illinois's medical marijuana law creates a complex legal framework, and running afoul if it can result in criminal drug charges. If you have recently been charged with a drug crime, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC represents the accused in towns across the northwest suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, and Arlington Heights.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Legally Possessing Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Web Admin - Friday, December 06, 2013

On August 1st, 2013, the Illinois legislature passed The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which allows the use of medical marijuana in Illinois. This bill, which goes into effect on January 1st of next year, expands access to marijuana for those with certain medical conditions. However, the law keeps it illegal for recreational purposes, and tries to maintain public safety by carefully regulating who uses the drug and how much is allowed.

Rules on Marijuana Use

The state legislature placed several restrictions on the legality of medical marijuana. The law allows people to obtain marijuana only if they have one of 33 illnesses listed in the Act. However, the law also gives the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) the authority to add new diseases to the list as they see fit. The Act further limits the use of medical marijuana to people over the age of 18 who do not have a prior felony conviction. The legislature also attempted to control the spread of marijuana by requiring an Illinois ID card or driver’s license, so that people cannot travel to Illinois from other states just to get marijuana. Additionally, the Act forbids the use of marijuana in front of minor children.

How to Obtain Medical Marijuana

The process for acquiring medical marijuana eligibility contains three steps. First, a doctor must diagnose the patient with one of the 33 listed conditions, which include, among other diseases, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS, and various pain disorders. Once the doctor diagnoses a patient with an eligible disorder, the patient can go to a medical marijuana clinic or other specialist to acquire a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. The patient then takes that recommendation to the IDPH who will issue them an ID card that allows them to purchase medical marijuana.

Once the patient becomes eligible for medical marijuana, they can take their ID card to one of 60 state-regulated dispensaries, and use it to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Patients should keep in mind that the state heavily controls the supply of medical marijuana, which means that it may take a few months after the bill goes into effect before the medical marijuana actually becomes available.

Legal Help

If you have questions about the legality of medical marijuana, or have been charged with a crime related to medical marijuana, contact an experienced Chicago drug defense attorney today. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Schaumburg, Barrington, Des Plaines, Deer Park, Buffalo Grove, and more.


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