Illinois becomes 20th state to legalize marijuana

By WEEK Producer

August 1, 2013 Updated Aug 1, 2013 at 10:39 PM CDT

CHICAGO, Ill. – On Thursday, Illinois became the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act.

The law allows Illinois residents who suffer from debilitating medical conditions to be treated with cannabis.

It takes effect on January 1, 2014 and is a four-year pilot program.

The new legislation includes some of the nation’s strongest restrictions on the cultivation, dispensing and use of medical marijuana.

The law dictates that there will be 22 cultivation centers, 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.

Unlike some states, Illinois law will not permit patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis.

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.

There are 35 medical conditions that qualify for eligibility, including muscular dystrophy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.

Minors and people with felony drug convictions or psychiatric conditions do not qualify. Patients may not be police officers, firefighters, probation officers or school bus drivers. Patients who drive while impaired by medical cannabis face the same penalties as those who drive while impaired by prescription drugs.

Medical cannabis may not be used on a school bus or school grounds, in a correctional facility, in a residence used to provide childcare or any public place. Landlords may ban smoking of medical cannabis on leased property and employers will maintain the power to ensure a drug-free work place.