Illinois

Illinois Medical Cannabis

Illinois Medical Cannabis

On August 1, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the state’s first medical cannabis laws. Touted as one of the country’s toughest medical cannabis regimes, Illinois is the twentieth state in the cannabis union and is the second most populous state (after California) with MMJ laws. The law is scheduled to go into effect in January 2014. Our Illinois cannabis attorneys have analyzed the new law (HB0001) and here are its main highlights:

  • Illinois’ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act is only a four year pilot program.
  • Medical cannabis patients must have an existing bona fide physician-patient relationship with a doctor and must be diagnosed with one of 35 specified debilitating medical conditions.
  • Qualifying patients are entitled to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 14 days, unless they obtain a waiver from a physician recommending more.
  • Only licensed physicians can recommend patients for cannabis use.
  • The Departments of Public Health, Agriculture, and Financial and Professional Regulation will regulate patient access to cannabis, cultivation centers, and dispensing outlets accordingly.
  • Illinois will maintain a confidential patient registry and issue cannabis patient identification cards.
  • Qualifying patients, designated providers, cultivation centers, and dispensing facilities will be immune from arrest and prosecution under State law.
  • Employers can adopt and enforce zero-drug-tolerance policies in the workplace.
  • There will be up to 22 cultivation center permits issued across the state.
  • Convicted felons cannot hold a cultivation permit.
  • Cultivation centers cannot be within 2,500 feet of the property lines of the following:
    • Pre-existing public or private preschools
    • Elementary or secondary schools
    • Day care centers, day care homes, group day care homes, and/or part day child care facilities
    • Areas zoned for residential use
  • Cultivation centers may only sell to dispensaries; they cannot sell directly to qualifying patients.
  • There will up to 60 dispensing facility permits issued across the state (with no restrictions by county).
  • Dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet from the property lines of the following structures:
    • Pre-existing public or private preschools
    • Elementary or secondary schools
    • Day care centers, day care homes, group day care homes, and/or part day child care facilities
    • Areas zoned for residential use.
  • Dispensing cannot occur inside homes, apartments, condos, or areas zoned as residential.
  • A “7% tax [on] the sales price per ounce” sold will be assessed to cultivation centers only.

The lllinois Departments of Public Health, Agriculture, and Financial and Professional Regulation will — within 120 days of the passage of the new MMJ laws — begin a supplemental rule-making process to fill in any gaps in the new law left over by the legislature.

What will the Federal Government do? Illinois has three Federal districts, meaning that three US different US Attorneys wield Federal authority over the state. James A. Lewis is US Attorney for the Central District, the Northern District office (the district that includes Chicago) is currently up-for-grabs (though Zachary Fardon was recently nominated for the appointment), and Stephen R. Wigginton is  US Attorney for the Southern District. We do not expect particularly loud opposition from any of these districts.

From what we can tell so far, Illinois has made a very good start with its MMJ pilot program and we intend to report back from our Chicago office as things transpire there.