Illinois became the twentieth state (21st if you count Maryland’s recently-passed restrictive mmj program) to allow for medical cannabis yesterday, when Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation passed last May into law.
Quinn was flanked by Jim Champioin, a military veteran suffering from multiple sclerosis who uses cannabis to control his symptoms.
The governor pointed to his faith as one of the main reasons he signed the bill. “I feel that this is something, whatever faith we practice, we all believe that helping those who are sick, helping them recover and also helping them deal with pain, that’s a tenet in every faith and every religion,” he said at the ceremony.
Illinois laws now allow qualified patients with doctors recommendations for one of more than 40 conditions to possess up to 2.5 ounces at a time. The laws do not allow for home cultivation, however, and all cannabis has to be grown by one of 22 state-approved farms and purchased at one of the sixty-or-so state-regulated medical cannabis facilities around the state. A seven percent tax will be put on all sales to help cover enforcement costs.
The program is technically a pilot program set to only last four year, at which point the legislature will decide whether to continue it permanently.
The law takes effect January 1, at which time state officials will begin months of outlining exactly how the program is to operate. Most agree that it would be at least the fall of 2014 before medicine is available to patients.
While restrictive, the program is still touted by activists in Illinois as a major leap forward. Mike Graham, a 50-year-old suffering from major back pain thanks to an old football injury, tells the Chicago Tribune that cannabis has been a wonder drug for him.
“In a matter of days, I started to feel better. I could keep food down,” Graham said. “I thought, ‘Oh, boy, what am I going to say at Thanksgiving?’ But then they noticed that I could eat, so they knew something was up. … I hadn’t been there the three previous years because I wasn’t able to get out of bed.”
“In a matter of days, I started to feel better. I could keep food down,” Graham told the paper. “I thought, ‘Oh, boy, what am I going to say at Thanksgiving?’ But then they noticed that I could eat, so they knew something was up. … I hadn’t been there the three previous years because I wasn’t able to get out of bed.”
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