Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a bill into law Thursday legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois at an event at the University of Chicago, two state government sources told the Tribune today. Supporters say the four-year trial program here will be the strictest law of its kind in the nation.
For years, the measure had failed to gain traction at the Capitol, particularly in the House. But sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, was able to cobble together a simple majority in the spring to send the bill to the Senate, where a similar but less restrictive bill had passed in previous years.
As the legislation was gaining momentum, Quinn indicated that he would keep an “open mind” about the issue. Proponents took it as a positive sign from a governor who has displayed his liberal tendencies on issues ranging from abolishing the death penalty to supporting a gay marriage bill.
One reason Quinn said he was giving legalized pot more thought was that he was impressed by an injured military veteran who maintained marijuana provided him relief from war wounds.
Under the new law, which would take effect Jan. 1, an individual could be prescribed no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks. The prescribing doctor must have had a prior and ongoing medical relationship with the patient.
Patients would have to buy the marijuana from one of 60 dispensing centers throughout the state and would not be allowed to legally grow their own.
Workers at dispensing centers would undergo criminal background checks, the stores would be under round-the-clock camera surveillance and users would carry cards that indicate how much they had bought to prevent stockpiling.
Marijuana would be grown inside 22 cultivation centers registered with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Author: Ray Long
Published: July 31, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC