No. 20: Illinois Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Law goes into effect in January, with strict conditions

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Aug 1, 2013 5:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – Illinois became the 20th state in the nation to allow the medical use of marijuana today, with Gov. Pat Quinn signing some of the nation's toughest standards into law. The measure, which takes effect Jan. 1, sets up a four-year pilot program for state-regulated dispensaries and 22 so-called cultivation centers, where the plants will be grown. Under the measure, only patients with serious illnesses or diseases will be allowed to obtain medical marijuana. The bill lists more than 30, such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, and lupus. The patients must have established relationships with a doctor and will be limited to 2.5 ounces every two weeks.

What's more, Illinois won't allow home-growing operations like more than a dozen other states do. And growing centers will have to be under 24-hour video surveillance, which is uncommon compared to other states. Nineteen other states and DC allow medical marijuana, with New Hampshire joining the club last month. (The growing acceptance of medical marijuana is starting to cause friction with the movement to legalize the drug altogether. Big profits are at stake.)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks prior to signing a medical marijuana bill.   (Scott Eisen)
A file photo of a marijuana plant at a dispensary in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
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