On August 1, 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn signed The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The law will take effect on January 1, 2014.
Under the new law, patients will have to be diagnosed with one of 33 debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, or HIV/AIDS in order to qualify for medical marijuana.
Pursuant to the Medical Cannabis Act, a registered qualified patient will not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or denial of any right or privilege for the possession of 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14 days. In addition to a registered qualified patient, a registered designated caregiver will also be given the same immunity.
The Act provides for a rebuttable presumption that a registered qualifying patient or a designated caregiver is engaged in the medical use of cannabis if he/she (A) is in possession of a valid registry identification card; and (B) is in possession of an amount of cannabis that does not exceed the amount allowed (2.5 ounce per 14 day period). This presumption may be rebutted by evidence that conduct related to cannabis was not for the purpose of treating medical conditions.
Section 25(f) of the Act also grants immunity from prosecution to individuals involved in: (1) selling cannabis paraphernalia to a cardholder; (2) being in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of cannabis; or (3) assisting a registered qualifying patient with administering cannabis.
The General Assembly also addressed the discrepancy with federal law, saying that states are not required to enforce or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. (This, of course, does not mean that the FBI cannot enforce federal laws within the state.) Although it should be noted that approximately 99 out of 100 cannabis arrests in the U.S. are made under state law, not federal.
For a more comprehensive coverage of The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act click here.