Latest Illinois Marijuana News: Medical Cannabis and More
On May 31st, 2019, Illinois made a crucial step toward cannabis legalization in the state of Illinois.
General Assembly has passed a marijuana legalization law. It will permit adult recreational use of cannabis and put an end to the era of prohibition. Governor Pritzker has indicated he will sign the landmark bill, which will then enter force in 2020.
This is just the latest in a series of cannabis news in Illinois, including advancements in the Illinois medical marijuana program.
The Illinois Legislature previously passed temporary law for the use of medical marijuana. It was the twentieth (20th) state to do so, in January 2014. The result was the statewide registry and distribution program for patients.
However, there is a set of strict limitations to who can consume, where, and in what amount.
In fact, the Illinois legislation is one of the most restrictive in the United States. Patients must receive doctor recommendations and register with the state. Growing or possessing weed for recreational purposes is still illegal.
Green Lights Are On
After long years of legal exile, marijuana is entering the lawful mainstream.
Cannabis legalization is in full swing across the U.S. In Illinois, the changes are more noticeable than in some other states. Its regulative climate has been changing rapidly in recent years.
It all started with the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in 2014. The main propose of the Act was to provide safe access to medical products for patients.
Several important amendments soon followed. One granted access to the program for children under 18. Others focused on broadening the list of medical conditions.
And that’s just the beginning, as a stream of medical marijuana news from Illinois continued to come into the program and allow the state to learn more from the patients themselves.
In August 2018, the program was substantially expanded. Since then, it supports opioid painkiller replacement therapies. This is poised to bring thousands of new patients into the program, which already serves more than 40,000.
The next historic milestone was reached on May 31. Illinois General Assembly Passed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. It will make marijuana legal for recreational use starting January 1, 2020.
This means Illinois will join the ranks of California, Vermont, Colorado, and Michigan. Illinoisans will be able to purchase and possess up to 30 grams. Productions and sales will be regulated as well under separate recreation or adult use regulations set by the State of Illinois.
In the meantime, decriminalization makes things easier for users.
When it comes to recreational use, a personal amount of weed is 10 grams or less. Reduced penalties are in place here and possession only invokes citation.
In all intended cases, state law takes precedence over local regulation.
More Medical Marijuana News Illinois
The aforementioned Pilot Program remains the legal benchmark for medical users.
Essentially, it takes a tightly controlled approach to medical marijuana use. Namely, consumption is linked to special circumstances and conditions.
In order to qualify for medical marijuana, a patient must have a registry identification card. This document has to be renewed every three years and only licensed physicians can issue it.
The main prerequisite for obtaining a card is a debilitating medical condition.
The list of these conditions is long and includes over 40. They range from cancer to seizures and PTSD. The Department of Health has the authority to add new conditions and illnesses as it sees fit.
Furthermore, qualifying patients can only have an “adequate supply” of cannabis. It equals 2.5 ounces for a period of two weeks, although patients are also able to apply for a waiver. In other words, a physician can provide a written statement extending the limit. To learn more about our process, click here.
When it comes to concentrates, topical, tinctures, and edibles, rules are basically the same. The pre-weigh of marijuana flower used in manufacturing is taken into account.
It should be noted that program expansion from 2018 facilitated the application process. Patients no longer have to be fingerprinted. Criminal background checks stopped as well.
Everyone else with doctor recommendation can apply for the program online. Application fee ranges from $100 to $250, depending on the period you apply for. Fees for veterans and people with disabilities are halved.
The application form is simple and requires you to provide proof of Illinois residency, as well as age and identity. You also have to choose dispensary and caretaker. So, browse the list of state-licensed dispensaries— there are around 55 of them in operation.
Not surprisingly, most are clustered around Chicago.
Some Caveats to Keep an Eye on
After getting approved, patients can visit a designated marijuana dispensary.
No, you cannot legally buy cannabis anywhere else, even if it’s a licensed cultivation center. So, visit an official store to purchase your marijuana strain (or another cannabis derivative).
Before you do that, however, you might want to know a few things. Most notably, certain kinds of marijuana-related behaviors are still illegal.
For instance, you cannot give, gift, or donate cannabis to others. Driving under the influence is prohibited. Charges are steep and they apply to all kinds of motor vehicles.
Consuming cannabis inside the vehicle is illegal. The same goes for smoking wherever the tobacco ban applies.
Moving on, there are certain categories of people excluded from the Program. These are public safety officials, bus drivers, firefighters, police officers, and drug-related felons.
Cultivation and trafficking are restricted to licensed facilities and cultivation centers. No qualifying patients or medical caregivers can engage in such endeavors.
Finally, due to the federal status of cannabis, you cannot export marijuana out of Illinois. As long as you’re not crossing state borders, you’re safe.
Departments of Health, Financial and Professional Regulation, and Agriculture regulate the law in Illinois. They monitor cannabis from seed-to-sale and issue a limited number of licenses. You can check out their official resources if you need further clarification.
The Green Path Forward
Medical marijuana is gaining legal ground left and right.
If you have been following medical marijuana news Illinois, you know what’s up. Illinois is among 31 states with favorable medical marijuana laws. What started as a conservative medical program is now expanding quickly.
It runs parallel to the decriminalization of recreational weed use. Despite these positive developments, we still have a long way to go.
Thus, there’s no need to throw caution to the wind. In fact, you want to play it by the book. The first thing to do is to check if your condition is listed as a qualifying requirement.
Then, you can get a certification from one of our registered physicians, and take part in the program. When shopping around, stick to licensed retailers. Don’t even think about exportation or trafficking.