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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.

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marijuana, decriminalization, Lake County drug crime defense lawyerLawmakers in Illinois took a major step toward the decriminalization of low-level marijuana possession this week as the State Senate approved a measure that was drafted to address Governor Bruce Rauner’s concerns from last year. If enacted, Illinois would join 20 other states and the District of Columbia which have already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Decriminalization, Not Legalization

While many around the state and across the country continue to push for the outright legalization of recreational marijuana, the bill currently before the legislature would do no such thing.  Instead, it would remove the possibility of criminal prosecution for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Low-level possession would still be against the law, but it would be addressed as a civil offense, similar to a traffic violation. Possession of more than 10 grams could still be prosecuted in criminal court, with penalties dependent upon the circumstances of each case.

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medical marijuana, Illinois law, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyerA few months ago, a post on this blog discussed a bill that had been sent to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that would have extended the state’s medical marijuana program. At the time, the governor had given no indication as to which way he would decide, but in the weeks and months since, his decision has left proponents of measure unsatisfied.

Hopeful Progress

Despite taking effect in January of 2014, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act still has yet to provide a single patient with legally grown and distributed medical marijuana. It has now been nearly two years and only the registration process is fully underway. In the last few weeks, cultivation centers have announced that harvesting of the first legal crops has begun, and that medical marijuana products should be reaching dispensary shelves soon. Meanwhile, some 3,000 qualified, registered patients continue to wait.

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