SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois residents continue to wait for Democrat Governor Pat Quinn to sign House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, passed by the legislature in May.
Even though the bill creates only a four year medical marijuana pilot program, advocates, who call the bill a “great first step,” have been anxiously awaiting action by Gov. Quinn on the bill, which he has indicated he supports but has not indicated if he will sign or veto.
If Governor Quinn signs House Bill 1, Illinois becomes the 20th state to allow medical marijuana. If Governor Quinn vetoes the bill, the decade-long push for medical marijuana in Illinois will continue.
But if Governor Quinn fails to take action on the bill by Sunday, Illinois will find itself as the 20th medical marijuana state come Monday morning.
Under Illinois law, if the Governor fails to sign or veto a bill within 60 days of receiving it from the legislature, the bill automatically becomes law.
House Bill 1 was sent to the Governor’s desk on June 5, and the clock is ticking, with the 60 days set to expire Sunday, August 4.
Governor Quinn’s lack of action on the bill could signify support of the bill, while taking the politically safe stance of having no opinion.
At a press conference following the legislature’s passage of the bill in May, Gov. Quinn addressed the issue of medical marijuana and the pending bill, sympathizing with with the plight of veterans who will benefit under House Bill 1.
“It’s an important bill,” said Gov. Quinn. “I’m going to look at the bill from top to bottom, as we do every bill. But I’m very open minded on this.”
Since then, Quinn has remained silent, and House Bill 1 remains unsigned, although the News-Gazette reports that Gov. Quinn will act on the bill “next week.”
House Bill 1 would allow people suffering from specific medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Qualified patients would be able to obtain marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries, which would acquire marijuana from up to 22 cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation would regulate the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana.
Under the four-year pilot program outlined in the Illinois bill, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of 33 debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV/AIDS in order to qualify for medical marijuana. Patients must register with the state’s health department and have written certification from their physicians.
Patients will be limited to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana every two weeks. The marijuana must be grown in Illinois, kept in a closed container, and not used in public or in front of minors.
Those who use, grow or sell medical marijuana must be fingerprinted and undergo background checks during the application process. Patients suspected of driving under the influence face the loss of not only their driving privileges, but also their medical marijuana cards.