Pubdate: Thu, 01 Aug 2013
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Ray Long


SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a bill into law Thursday 
legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois in a 
ceremony at the University of Chicago.

Supporters say the four-year trial program will be the strictest law 
of its kind in the nation. Medical cannabis could be used to relieve 
nausea from cancer treatment, ease stress on people with multiple 
sclerosis and comfort AIDS patients.

The Democratic governor's signature will add Illinois to a growing 
list of 19 other states and the District of Columbia that have made 
marijuana legal in some form, according to the National Conference of 
State Legislatures.

For years, the measure had failed to gain traction at the Capitol, 
particularly in the House. But this spring sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, 
D-Skokie, was able to cobble together the votes needed to send the 
bill to the Senate, where a similar but less restrictive bill had 
passed in previous years.

"Our goal from the beginning was to provide a better quality of life 
for some very sick people in Illinois," Lang said. "When the governor 
signs the bill, it'll be a signal to many people that the state of 
Illinois still has a good deal of compassion, a good deal of concern 
for those of us, under a doctor's care, who wish to try a new type of 
therapy ... to simply feel better."

As the legislation was gaining momentum, Quinn indicated he would 
keep an "open mind." Proponents took that as a positive sign from a 
governor who has displayed his liberal philosophy on issues ranging 
from abolishing the death penalty to supporting a gay marriage bill. 
Quinn cited an encounter with a military veteran who maintained that 
marijuana gave him relief from war wounds.

Under the law, which would take effect Jan. 1, a person could be 
prescribed no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks. In 
addition, the prescribing doctor must have a prior and ongoing 
medical relationship with the patient and must find that the patient 
has one of a few dozen serious or chronic conditions for the 
marijuana to be prescribed.

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-theclock 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 state.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom