Medical Marijuana Legislation
Medical Marijuana for Illinois
On Aug. 1, after Governor Pat Quinn signed off on "The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act," Illinois became the 20th state to pass a law which permits seriously ill patients the use of medicalmarijuana. The bill will provide patients access to a novel therapy and perhaps give many a better quality of life.
This new law is the strictest medical marijuana law in the nation. Illinois' marijuana penalties will not cease. Fines and jail sentences for possession of marijuana will continue to be enforced, ranging from jail sentences up to one month and fines as high as $1,500 for possession of under 2.5 grams of marijuana.
Decriminalizing Patients' Cannabis Use
A patient must be issued an ID card from the Illinois Department of Public Health, verifying that he or she has a specified debilitating medical condition and would receive benefit from medical cannabis. Qualifying patients must provide certification, in writing, from a physician who is treating them for the qualifying condition and with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship. Patients will be granted protection from arrest once these measures are properly addressed.
Restrictions on Who Qualifies as a Patient
- minors cannot qualify as patients
- active police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, probation officers, and bus drives cannot qualify as patients
- potential patients may not have a commercial driver's license or a felony drug conviction
Qualifying Medical Conditions
Psychiatric conditions do not qualify and there is no general category for "pain". The specific conditions which qualify patients are: cancer; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS); Crohn's disease; agitation of Alzheimer's disease; cachexia/wasting syndrome; muscular dystrophy; severe fibromyalgia; spinal cord disease; Tarlov cysts; hydromyelia; syringomyelia; spinal cord injury; traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome; multiple
sclerosis; Arnold Chiari malformation; Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA); Parkinson's disease; Tourette's syndrome; Myoclonus; Dystonia; Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD); Causalgia; CRPS; Neurofibromatosis; Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy; Sjogren's
syndrome; Lupus; Interstitial Cystitis; Myasthenia Gravis; Hydrocephalus; nail patella syndrome; residual limb pain; or the treatment of these conditions.
Regulated Cultivation Centers
Every single cannabis cultivation center will be tightly regulated. All cannabis will be grown by up to 22 strictly regulated cultivation centers with 24-hour surveillance, readily accessible by law enforcement. Prospective license holders will have to submit detailed plans to the Department of Agriculture, which will select one facility in each of the 22 State Police districts. Each center will have cannabis-tracking systems and perform weekly inventories. Each center will be required to follow strict department rules, including for labeling, safety, security, and record keeping. Cultivation centers' security plans will have to be approved by the State Police, as well as comply with local zoning laws. Centers must be located at least 2,500 feet from daycare centers, schools, and areas zoned for residential use.
Strictly Regulated Dispensing
Patients or caregivers may not cultivate cannabis. Patients can only purchase medical cannabis from state-regulated dispensing organizations, which will purchase the cannabis from cultivation centers. There will be no more than 60 dispensaries in the state, and they will have to abide by Department of Financial and Professional Regulation rules and local zoning. Dispensaries may not be located within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare location, nor could they be sited in residential neighborhoods.
Patients must designate only one dispensing organization where they will be able to receive medical marijuana. Dispensaries may distribute up to 2.5 ounces to any patient during any 14-day period, unless otherwise indicated and certified by the patients's physician. In such case, the Department of Public Health will grant the patient a waiver, certifying the patient's need of a specific higher quantity. Caregivers, who many serve only one patient, will be permitted to pick up medicine for the patient who designates them.
Registry ID Cards
Patients, caregivers, cultivation center agents, and dispensing organization agents will be issued ID cards by the Department of Public Health, Department of Agriculture, or Department of FInancial and Professional Regulation. The ID cards will issue an expiration date and number which will help confirm the card's validity. ID cards of cultivation center and dispensing organization employees' will include a photograph of the employee. Patients and caregivers may also be required to contain a photograph on their ID cards.
Restrictions on Driving
Each registered patient will be deemed to have consented to a field sobriety test, which they could be subjected to based on an independent, factual basis related to cannabis. Their drivers' records will include a notation that they are a qualifying patient. Cannabis cannot be transported in a vehicle unless it is in a secure, sealed, tamper-evident container that is reasonably inaccessible. Patients who drive while they are impaired by cannabis will face the same penalties as patients who drive while impaired by prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Impact on Employers
The bill states specifically that it does not "prohibit an employer from
enforcing a policy concerning drug testing, zero-tolerance, or a drug free workplace provided such policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner." Elsewhere, the bill also makes clear that employers aren't liable for disciplinary action against employees who use or possess marijuana in the workplace or based on an employer's good-faith belief that an employee was impaired. Finally, the bill states that it does not interfere with federal restrictions and regulations on employment.
The Act includes strict limitations on where cannabis can be used. For example, patients cannot use cannabis at a dispensing organization, in any public place, or in the view of minors. They also cannot undertake any task under the influence of cannabis when doing so will constitute negligence or professional malpractice. Landlords can prohibit smoking on the premises of leased property.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A ROUGH, GENERAL SUMMARY OF THE LAW. THERE ARE MANY PROVISIONS AND MANY OF THE PROVISIONS LISTED ABOVE ARE WRITTEN MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THE ACTUAL LAW. YOU CAN ACCESS THE TEXT OF THE FULL LAW HERE: