Illinois Senate Passes Medical Cannabis Bill 35-21


On May 17, exactly one month after the same action by the Illinois House, the Illinois Senate voted 35-21 to pass House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, sending the bill to Governor Quinn’s desk to be signed into law.  This comprehensive program represents a significant step forward for Illinois as the General Assembly more generally considers amending its policies regarding cannabis in line with many other states throughout the country.  If this bill becomes law, Illinois will be the 20th state (plus D.C.) to allow for the use of cannabis for medical purposes in some circumstances.

Illinois NORML supports House Bill 1 because it legally protects patients and their doctor’s right to choose the best course of treatment for each individual situation.  “Finally, the Illinois General Assembly has passed a bill that will protect very ill people from being arrested if the patient and their doctor feel that cannabis can help the patient with their medical condition,” said Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn.  “Medical cannabis patients should not be criminals and should have safe and legal access to medical cannabis.”

If signed into law, this bill would create a medical cannabis system regulated by the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  The law provides for up to 22 cultivation centers and 60 dispensing organizations throughout the state.  It would allow safe and legal access to medical cannabis for sick people with one of the more than 35 specific conditions listed in the legislation.  

The patients would be allowed to purchase 2.5 ounces every two weeks and any cannabis used in edibles, tinctures or topicals would count towards that allotted medicine limit.  Medical cannabis would be taxed at the same rate as pharmaceutical and over the counter medicines of 1%.  Public safety officials, school bus drivers, police officers, firefighters, commercial drivers, anyone convicted of a drug related felony and probation officers are prohibited from being patients.  There are limits as to where cannabis may be consumed and carried and patients would be subject to a Standardized Field Sobriety Test if suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis.

“We would also like to thank all the sponsors in both chambers for their work on this legislation.” Linn added.  Part of the IL Senate debate included a few State Senators blasting the FDA for all the prescription drugs they are approving that are highly addictive and killing people from overdoses.  Cannabis it was noted has never been shown to be fatal via overdose.

You can read the full text of the measure here.