Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn called legalizing medical marijuana important ‘for healing’ in his state.
America’s green rush is on.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that makes Illinois the 20th state in the nation to legalize the use of medical marijuana.
“This is really an important day, I think, for healing in Illinois,” Quinn said at a signing ceremony on Thursday. “For helping people who are dealing with pain every day, often times very severe pain.”
The new law is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, but could take months longer to implement due to the intricacies of its rules.
For starters, pot can only be prescribed to treat one of 42 illnesses, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Patients are not allowed to receive more than 2.5 ounces every two weeks, and the doctor who prescribes the drug must have had a previous professional relationship with the patient.
So far, 20 states have passed laws allowing doctors to treat patients by writing prescriptions for marijuana.
In an effort to clamp down on the rampant proliferation of dispensaries and illegal growing operations seen in some states that have legalized medical marijuana, patients would have to buy the drug from one of 60 pre-approved locations and have been grown at one of 22 growing centers.
In July, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a similar bill into law. Four other states — New York, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have pending legislation to legalize medical pot.
Seventeen states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, making the offense similar in stature to a traffic violation. Voters in Colorado and Washington legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana in 2012.
“Illinois is the latest of a growing number of states adopting compassionate, commonsense legislation that reflects the proven medical benefits of medical marijuana,” Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the pro-pot group Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Seriously ill people in every state deserve the same safe and legal access to medical marijuana, and we will continue to work with patients and advocates around the nation until they have it.”