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Americans for Safe Access, the national medical marijuana patient's right organization has just released a national compilation of its evaluation of state medical marijuana laws. Although Illinois had a MMJ provision in its cannabis laws since the late 1970s, it was never more than a bit of window dressing and totally ineffective in protecting patients from prosecutors bent on running up their conviction rates. They simply ignored that part of the law, while prosecuting patients under the provisions of the law they are personally inclined to enforce.
That changed in 2013 when after years of trying, Illinois passed and Governor Quinn signed a MMJ law. While a small advance from the dreadful status patients faced previously, it is struggling to get off the ground, with significant doubts as to its ability to create improved access for patients, supply their needs at a reasonable cost, and prevent law enforcement abuse of patients.
ASA summarizes the current situation like this:
On August 1 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 1, The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act which creates a statewide distribution program for patients with one of over 35 serious medical conditions under the recommendation of their doctor. HB 1 is very strict and does not allow for pain and does not allow patients or their caregivers to cultivate their medicine.
HB 1 allows patients to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks from one of the 60 dispensing organizations that will be supplied by the 22 cultivation centers. Dispensing organization and cultivation centers will be regulated by The Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and will be able to produce flowers, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. Medical cannabis will be taxed at 1%, the same rate as pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medicines.
Minors, public safety officials, school bus and commercial drivers, police and correctional officers, firefighters, and anyone convicted of a drug related felony are not allowed to be qualifying patients. The legislation includes restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed and provisions for driving under the influence.
ASA has now issued a state-by-state grade card to permit easy comparision between the few states with good laws and those who claim to benefit patients, but fall far short in reality for meeting the needs of those whose conditions could be improved or alleviated from medical use of cannabis. Sadly, Illinois could do no better than 65/100 or a mid-range D. Good luck getting into college with grades like that...
So even as it struggles to get off the ground, the Illinois MMJ program needs dramatic improvement to meet the needs of patients for affordable access to medical marijuana.
For more, see the full report available as a PDF at: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/americansforsafeaccess/pages/121/attachments/original/1404758792/ASA_Medical_Marijuana_Access_in_the_US.pdf?1404758792