Marijuana has been legalized for medicinal use in Illinois, making it the twentieth state in the US that permits individuals with serious diseases, including HIV and multiple sclerosis, to buy the drug in limited quantities.
The law, signed Thursday, goes into effect on January 1, 2014 and enacts regulations considered to be among the toughest used by states that have legalized medical marijuana. Patients, after being issued a state identification card, will be allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two week period. There will also be 22 cultivation centers located throughout Illinois, where plants will be grown.
Illinois patients will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana, which is allowed in other states, and the cultivation centers will be under 24-hour surveillance. Medical marijuana users from outside the state will not be allowed to use their ID to buy it in Illinois, an unusual rule among the other states.
Marijuana can help relieve symptoms from cancer, muscular dystrophy, lupus, and over 30 other illnesses. The drug is known to combat insomnia, lack of appetite, general pain, movement disorders, glaucoma, and vomiting, among other maladies.
“It’s important we do whatever we can to ease their pain,” said Governor Pat Quinn as he signed the bill into law at the University of Chicago. “The reason I’m signing the bill is because it is so tightly and properly drafted.”
Patients suffering from a variety of injuries, ranging from military wounds to the physical deterioration that comes with old age, have complained of prescription pill cocktails that leave them groggy and unable to function.
Mike Graham, whose old football injury morphed into spinal problems that confined his life to a bed, was on hand when Governor Quinn signed the law on Thursday. He admitted to the Chicago Tribune that he was hesitant to try marijuana to fix the pain because of the stigma that came from living in a family of police officers.
“In a matter of days, I started to feel better. I could keep food down,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, boy, what am I going to say at Thanksgiving? But then they noticed that I could eat, so they knew something was up…I hadn’t been there the three previous years because I wasn’t able to get out of bed.”