Updated: September 26, 2013 6:45AM
Just three weeks after Illinois’ medical marijuana bill was signed into law, patient advocates and hopeful distributors gathered to discuss the many regulations the legislation still needs before the drug can be made officially available — a process that could delay sales until 2015.
The signed law does not yet have a process for choosing the state’s 60 registered dispensaries or the 22 cultivators allowed.
Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, told those assembled at the United Food and Commercial Workers headquarters Friday that “a process for the process” of applying for these positions would take time well beyond when the law goes into effect Jan. 1. Sherer said early 2015 would be the likely start of sales for medical marijuana in Illinois.
The current bill is scheduled to “sunset” — or expire — in four years, and with the time needed to decide on necessary regulations, the urgency to prove cannabis’ worth before it would come up again for vote centered the meeting.
“In this year, it is not snooze time. Passing a law is really the start of a lot more work,” Sherer said.
The group of about 30, some in shirts and ties, some in sandals and T-shirts, debated what the identification cards should look like and cost, how often a patient would need to prove they were still suffering from their illness, and urged for instant verification of a prescription should a patient be stopped by police.
Sherer’s told those assembled her group had already begun drafting additional legislation she called “clean-up” to make Illinois’ law less restrictive.
Unlike other states with medical marijuana, Illinois’ law does not allow patients to cultivate their own or allow ill children to use products with marijuana’s active chemical, major updates many present said the law demands.
One man, who declined to be identified due to federal laws against cannabis, hoped to get medical marijuana for his 72-year-old mother, an Illinois resident who suffers from diabetic neuropathy.
“She has shooting pains in her legs all day long,” the man said.
He said that no matter the bureaucracy required, the benefits of medical marijuana were too great to give up the fight.
“She’s getting all these pharmaceuticals, you have to take one to offset the other. I would much rather have her taking something natural.”