Over the last several years, Illinois lawmakers have approved several measures that have changed the state’s approach to marijuana . While they did not go so far as to legalize recreational use of the drug, low-level possession is no longer a crime, and individuals who have been duly registered with the state are legally permitted to use the drug on a medical basis. The state’s medical marijuana program has been somewhat controversial, but it still remains a legal option for those who qualify.
A Quick Review
In August 2013, then-Governor Pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act which took effect on January 1, 2014. The Act laid the groundwork for a new medical marijuana program that was set to lest four years, as a sunset provision in the law would automatically repeal it on January 1, 2018. As growers and dispensaries applied for permits from the government, however, lawsuits and red tape did not allow the first patients to legally obtain marijuana for medical purposes until November of 2015.
Since the program went into effect, dispensaries around the state have reported sales of nearly $50 million, though these numbers are still below initial projections. Lawmakers have also approved an extension of the program until July 2020 to offset the delays in getting started. It does not seem likely, however, that the state will allow the program to end as trends across the country are making marijuana more accessible rather than less.
How to Qualify
The Illinois Department of Public Health is responsible for reviewing application from patients who wish to participate in the program. In order to qualify, an applicant must be a resident of Illinois aged 18 or older—minors may use a separate process to apply with the approval of their parents or guardians. An applicant must also have a debilitating medical condition, as certified by a physician. Those who have been convicted of certain felonies are not eligible, nor are those who currently serve as law enforcement officers or hold a commercial driver’s license.
There are more than 40 conditions recognized by the state as “debilitating medical conditions,” including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS);
- Crohn’s disease;
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Rheumatoid arthritis; and
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Short-term participation in the program is also possible for individuals diagnosed with any terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less. Approved patients may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from state-licensed dispensaries.
Facing Marijuana Charges?
Marijuana skeptics have expressed concern that medical cannabis programs like the one in Illinois have created a growing black market for the drug. While possession of up to 10 grams is no longer a crime in Illinois, possession of more than that or possession with intent to deliver can lead to serious criminal penalties.
If you have been charged with any type of marijuana-related offense, contact an experienced Joliet drug crimes attorney . Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.