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Quinn Signs Medical Marijuana Bill

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 1, 2013 2:00PM

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law legislation legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes at a ceremony Thursday at the University of Chicago’s Center for Care and Discovery. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act passed the Illinois Senate in May after years of failed attempts. Quinn said after the bill’s passage he would keep an “open mind” about signing the bill into law.

The bill authorizes 22 marijuana growers in Illinois and opens 60 dispensaries across the state where users who suffer from a list of 33 ailments, including HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and cancer, to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis (with a doctor’s prescription) within a 14-day period.

Growers, sellers and users would have to undergo criminal background checks and fingerprinting. But users would be subject to field sobriety tests if police believe they’re under the influence of marijuana and could lose both their driving privileges and prescriptions. Landlords and employers could also prevent prescription holders from keeping cannabis out of their workplaces and buildings.

State Rep. Lou Lang, the bill’s sponsor in the House and its chief champion over the years, said Quinn’s signing it into law is “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."

Illinois becomes the 19th state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact medical marijuana legislation. The law will go into effect Jan.1, 2014.