Medical marijuana is one step closer to reality after vote in Illinois

Earlier this month, an Illinois bill that would legalize marijuana for medical uses passed the Illinois House by a 61-57 vote – and has now been sent to the state Senate. If it ultimately becomes law, the bill would open the door for those suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions to obtain marijuana as a medication without having to worry about Illinois marijuana possession charges.

According to the bill – otherwise known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act – there are already 18 states that have eliminated state criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. If Illinois becomes the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana, then the four-year pilot program would permit an individual to be prescribed a maximum of 2.5 ounces of marijuana over a two-week period. But, the prescribing doctor must have an established “bona fide” relationship with the patient.

Furthermore, patients would only be able to buy their marijuana prescriptions from one of the up to 60 dispensing organizations that would operate throughout the state – meaning patients would not be able to grow their own.

Some of the debilitating medical conditions that would be eligible for a marijuana prescription – if the bill becomes law – include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • Tourette’s
  • Lupus

However, the complete list of conditions is quite extensive and includes several more ailments – not to mention the bill permits the Department of Public Health to add additional conditions if needed.

Current marijuana possession laws in Illinois

Under current Illinois law, the possession of marijuana is illegal – even if used for medical reasons – with different punishments depending on the amount of marijuana involved. For instance, while possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a Class C misdemeanor in Illinois, more than 30 grams is a felony.

It is important to note that federal laws and penalties may also apply with marijuana possession. This means that even if the medical marijuana bill is passed in Illinois, those prescribed the medication under state law may still be subject to the federal laws – making things very complicated.

The laws pertaining to drug possession in Illinois can be quite complex, and the medical marijuana bill, if passed, may make things even more so. Consequently, if you are facing a drug possession charge in Illinois, it is advisable to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help in ensuring your rights are protected.

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