Medical marijuana rules OK’d; patients likely can start next year
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter July 15, 2014 1:36PM
(From left) Executive Director Vicki Thomas and State Rep. Lou Lang chat as the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) discusses medical marijuana on Monday, July 14, 2014. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 17, 2014 6:26AM
Illinois is one step closer to getting medical marijuana grown, sold and smoked.
On Tuesday, lawmakers who make up the obscure but powerful Joint Committee on Administrative Rules had no objections to the rules that will be used to implement the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
That means the medical marijuana program in Illinois can officially be put to use, and the process to begin registering patients, dispensers and growers can begin.
Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, a member of the committee that approved the rules and a sponsor of the medical marijuana legislation, said after the meeting Tuesday, “As with all new programs there’s going to be a glitch here and a glitch there, but these state agencies that have been working on this are raring to go to make it right and to do it correctly and to make sure that, in the end, the very sick in Illinois can improve their quality of life by buying a product they want that is now legal in our state, from a dispensary that can sell them a good, pure and safe product.”
Applications for those seeking to use medical marijuana, grow it or sell it will likely be available in August, said Bob Morgan, the state’s medical marijuana program coordinator and a lawyer for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Then in September, the state will start accepting the applications and reviewing them.
Cultivation centers approved to grow the marijuana will need time to farm the product. Morgan expects patients with specific debilitating medical conditions — such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS — who are approved by the state should be able to start using medical marijuana early next year.
Dan Linn, the executive director of Illinois NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, said it would take a grower four months to grow the product and get it ready for a patient, but that doesn’t include setting up the building and operations at the cultivation center, which could mean more delays in getting the product out.