Illinois Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bill

ILLINOIS (WIFR) – People with serious medical conditions will soon be able to get pain relief by smoking pot, legally. Today Illinois became the 20th state in the country to legalize medical marijuana.

The medical marijuana law creates a 4-year pilot program in Illinois and it has some of the strongest restrictions in the country.

People suffering from more than 30 illnesses or diseases qualify including cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV. Those patients have to buy the pot from one of 60 dispensaries and can only get 2.5 ounces every 14 days. For people suffering from those illnesses like Tom Carter, today’s legislation means he’ll no longer have to break the law to get pain relief.

“When you smoke it it makes you go to sleep, you know it kind of relaxes your body down and I've been trying all kinds of hard drugs and they don't take my pain but if I smoke the joint I can sit back and relax,” said Carter.

There are some people who can’t get medical marijuana. Police officers, firefighters, probation officers, and school bus drivers are banned along with minors, people with felony drug convictions and psychiatric conditions.

Although the bill was signed into law today, it doesn’t go into effect until the first of the year. The Department of agriculture will have four months after that to implement rules for establishing dispensaries and cultivation centers.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois has become the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law Thursday at a new University of Chicago medical facility.

Illinois' law takes effect Jan. 1, but it'll take several months before medical marijuana will be available for purchase. The measure outlines a four-year pilot program for patients suffering from more than 30 serious illnesses or diseases.

Quinn says he's heard compelling stories from seriously ill patients -- including veterans -- and says medical marijuana will provide many people relief.

He also says Illinois' new law also has some of the toughest standards in the country, including background checks for all staff at state-run dispensaries and 24-hour surveillance at growing centers.

Nineteen other states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana.

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