Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jan 2014
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2014 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Robert McCoppin


Ban on Firearm Owners Is Part of Long List of Planned Medical
Marijuana Regulations

Patients who want to qualify for medical marijuana in Illinois would
have to be fingerprinted for a background check and pay $150 a year -
and give up their right to own a gun, state officials proposed Tuesday.

The plan outlines how adults who have any of 41 specified medical
conditions, such as cancer, AIDS or complex regional pain syndrome,
may apply to get a patient registry identification card to purchase
medical pot.

The proposed rules are the first in a series of parameters expected to
be outlined over the course of the year to govern how medical
marijuana can be legally grown, sold and purchased. The Illinois
Department of Public Health will take public comment on this set of
rules until Feb. 7 and then submit them to a legislative panel for
approval by the end of April.

Most of the rules address how a patient can qualify for an ID card to
buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks - or more if a
doctor certifies that it's necessary.

One new proposal states that a qualifying patient or caregiver may not
possess a firearm, even if they have a state firearm owner's
identification card or concealed carry permit, and violators may be
subject to sanctions by state police

Todd Vandermyde, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said the
NRA takes no position on the issue but that the rule seems to be an
attempt to interpret federal law. A U.S. Department of Justice firearm
application form asks if the buyer is "an unlawful user" of marijuana
or other controlled substances.

Illinois regulations make clear that pot possession is still
prohibited by federal law, and the state denies liability for damages
arising from the program, including federal prosecution.

"It presents a novel legal conundrum," Vandermyde said. "The courts
are going to have to reconcile it."

The rules would allow patients to designate a caregiver who could
legally purchase and carry marijuana for them. Patients and caregivers
would undergo a background check by Illinois State Police and would be
rejected for any felony conviction for a violent crime or for
possession of a controlled substance, including marijuana or

A proposed exception would be if the patient proves that a drug
conviction involved "a reasonable amount (of ) cannabis intended for
medical use," and that the patient had a debilitating medical
condition at the time.

Also, each patient must be at least 18 and have a "bona fide"
relationship with a doctor who would certify the patient's medical

The state would have 180 days to act on an application. A patient
would need to reapply annually to maintain the certification.

The possession or use of marijuana would be banned on school grounds
or school buses, in any other vehicle and at child care businesses and
correctional facilities. An exception is made to transport marijuana
in a vehicle if it is in an inaccessible sealed container. Smoking
marijuana also would be prohibited in health care facilities, anywhere
that tobacco smoking is prohibited or in "any public place where an
individual could reasonably be expected to be observed by others."

The law also would prohibit use of medical marijuana by police
officers, firefighters, school bus and commercial drivers, and anyone
who is not a qualified patient.

On the production side, cultivation centers would need to track
inventory and have 24-hour surveillance systems. They could not
operate within 2,500 feet of a school, child care center or
residential area and could not sell directly to the public, only to
registered dispensaries.

The state Department of Agriculture still must develop rules for
cultivation centers, and the Illinois Department of Financial and
Professional Regulation still must draw up rules for

The proposed patient registry rules were developed by Bob Morgan,
medical marijuana coordinator and legal counsel for the Department of
Health, in consultation with staff members and officials from other
states that have medical marijuana, agency spokeswoman Melaney Arnold
said. She expects tens of thousands of applicants, and many comments
from the public.

Patient applications will be accepted for those whose last names start
with A through L in September and October; the rest may apply in
November and December. After that, all applications will be taken year-round.

A nine-member advisory board of health professionals and one patient
advocate, all appointed by the governor, will review proposals for
adding ailments to the list of qualifying conditions. The Department
of Public Health director will make the final decision.

Illinois is the 20th state to allow medical marijuana. The proposed
rules may be seen at  
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