Back in 2013, the Illinois State Legislature passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, legalizing the use of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription for individuals with certain medical conditions. For those who can benefit from medical cannabis, it has been a long wait since then to gain access to the medicine to help with their conditions, but finally, that wait has come to an end.
The Illinois Medical Cannabis Program is being overseen by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will closely monitor and regulate the industry. The marijuana that will be sold in the state is also being grown in Illinois, and will be periodically tested for potency and purity. A total of eight dispensaries have been approved to begin operation. Locations that will be opening first will be in Addison, Canton, Marion, Mundelein, North Aurora, Ottawa, Quincy, and Schaumburg, Illinois. Most of the dispensaries are small facilities located in office building-type settings. In addition to medical marijuana, the dispensaries will sell a small number of vaporizers and rolling papers, but users can also purchase vape pens, portable vaporizers, and desktop vaporizers online.
The medical marijuana program in Illinois is only in its initial stages. The 2013 legislation will allow a total of 60 dispensaries to operate within state borders. More than 20 other applications have been received and are currently being reviewed. The program that was put in place by the bill is set to expire in 2017, though, there seems to be a consensus that if things prove to be successful, the medical marijuana program will continue in the state.
Currently, there are 3300 patients that are able to gain access to medical marijuana in Illinois, and more than 20,000 have started the application process. In order to legally buy medical marijuana from a dispensary, patients must have a prescription from a doctor, and have been diagnosed with one of 40 conditions approved by the state. Then, they must complete a registration application and receive a special identification card. In addition, they must select one dispensary as their primary supplier of cannabis.
When registered patients visit their primary dispensary, they will be asked to show their registry cards. Then, the cards will be entered into a computer system to double check their authenticity. Once everything is verified, patients will be able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every 2 weeks. The law does not require patients to use a vaporizer, but many physicians recommend vaping over smoking due to its health benefits. Illinois does place restrictions on where medical cannabis can be used; patients may only smoke or vape in their own homes.
Illinois residents who have questions about the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act are urged to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health for more information. The department has a website set up to answer many common questions and can also be reached by phone.