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Gov. Quinn signs medical marijuana bill

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 2:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 11:02 p.m. CDT

Now that Gov. Quinn signed House Bill 1 – the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act – those with debilitating medical conditions will be able to have marijuana dispensed to them legally.

Illinois is the 21st state to approve the legal use of medical marijuana. The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014, and is a four-year pilot program.

The law specifies 35 medical conditions for eligibility, including muscular dystrophy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's and traumatic brain injury.

Among the restrictions are that the prescribing physician and the patient must have an established relationship. Minors and people with felony drug convictions or psychiatric conditions do not qualify, according to the law.

In the past several months, Quinn has heard from veterans, cancer patients and those with chronic illnesses about supporting medical marijuana.

“As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future’,” Quinn said in a statement. “Over the years, I’ve been moved by the brave patients and veterans who are fighting terrible illnesses. They need and deserve pain relief.”

The new law will provide relief and help eligible patients ease their suffering, while making sure Illinois has the nation’s strictest safeguards to prevent abuse, Quinn said.

The new law enacts restrictions on the cultivation centers to ensure professional licensing, 24-hour surveillance and inventory control. Twenty-two cultivation centers will be allowed, one for each State Police District.

Each must comply with local zoning laws, and be located at least 2,500 feet from day care centers and schools. And unlike other states, Illinois' law will not allow patients or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana.

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.

In addition, the new law also bans campaign contributions from operators of cultivation centers and dispensaries.

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