Medical Marijuana in Illinois

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act

On August 1, 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB 1, which will create a medical marijuana pilot program for the state of Illinois. Entitled the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, the law represents nearly 10 years of hard work on the part of legislators, the Marijuana Policy Project, and hundreds of doctors and patients around the state to bring needed relief to the state’s seriously ill patients.  The law was created with a “sunset” provision, meaning that if the legislature does not renew the program or create a new law, the program will cease to operate four years from the date it goes into effect.  The law allows physicians to recommend the therapeutic use of medical marijuana to patients who are under the doctors’ care for at least one of the 33 qualifying medical conditions. Qualifying patients who receive a written certification may register with the state Department of Public Health for legal status as a medical marijuana patient.

Qualifying Medical Conditions

The qualifying medical conditions 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. In addition, the Department of Public Health can approve additional debilitating medical conditions.

Legal Ramifications

Registered patients may not be arrested or prosecuted or face criminal or other penalties including property forfeiture for engaging in the medical use of marijuana in compliance with the law. There are also protections against patients being discriminated against in medical care — such as organ transplants — and in reference to child custody. In addition, landlords may not refuse to rent to a person solely due to his or her status as a registered patient or caregiver unless housing the applicant violates federal law on the part of the landlord. Landlords may prohibit smoking medical marijuana on their premises. Similarly, schools and employers are prohibited from discriminating based on patient status unless they face restrictions under federal law. Employers may continue to enforce drug-free work place policies, and they do not have to allow employees to possess marijuana at work or work while they are impaired.

The new law authorizes registered patients to obtain up to 2 1⁄2 ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks from a dispensary the patient specifies during the application process. Patients may apply for a waiver to use more marijuana if their physicians explain that that amount is insufficient for the patient.

Laws are in constant flux in Illinois.  If you have questions regarding the use or ability to obtain a written certification or if you have a written certification and would like to know to what extent you may use the certification contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney.

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