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Lawmakers Reach Agreement to Extend and Expand Medical Marijuana Program

Posted on in Lake County Defense Attorney

medical marijuana, Skokie criminal defense lawyerAccording to several reports, political heavyweights in Springfield have hammered out an agreement to extend the Illinois medical marijuana program and to add two new qualifying conditions. The changes must be approved by the full legislature, but many are hopeful that the pact represents a solid step in the right direction.

Off to a Slow Start

When the Illinois legislature passed a measure to create the state’s medical marijuana pilot program back in 2013, proponents of the bill were hopeful that the initiative would get underway quickly. The program was intended to help Illinois residents diagnosed with one of approximately three dozen qualifying conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and many others. Despite being approved by then-Governor Pat Quinn to become effective on January 1, 2014, political infighting and bureaucratic delays continued to push back the program’s implementation. The first legal medical marijuana did not become available until November of 2015, more than 22 months later.

Extending the Sunset Provision

The program was essentially designed to be a four-year test of medical marijuana in Illinois so that lawmakers and experts could study the effect of using the drug to treat debilitating conditions. After taking nearly two years to get started, however, there was only a little over half of the slated time remaining. To that end, lawmakers who were instrumental in getting the original measure passed have been asking the current governor, Bruce Rauner, to extend the program at least back to its intended length. Late last month, Governor Rauner and legislative leaders reached an agreement that would allow the program to continue through July of 2020.

PSTD and Terminal Illnesses

The agreement would also add two new qualifying conditions to the list of those approved for medical marijuana. Patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder would be eligible for the program, along with any patient suffering from a terminal illness and have been given less than six months to live. The approval time for terminal patients would also be reduced to two weeks from the current six or seven weeks for most eligible patients.

The bill containing the agreement has yet to receive a vote in the House or Senate so nothing is certain yet. However, there is reason to believe that, with bipartisan support, the measure stands a good chance of being enacted.

Help With Your Marijuana Charge

Possession and use of marijuana without a valid medical use registration is still considered a crime in Illinois. If you are facing charges, you need the assistance of an experienced Lake County criminal defense lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Matthew R. Gebhardt, P.C., at 847-239-4703 today for a free initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3503

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-medical-marijuana-extension-met-20160527-story.html

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/rauner-agrees-to-expand-medical-marijuana-program-for-those-with-ptsd-terminal-illnesses/

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