Marijuana may be legal for medicinal use in Illinois, but patients who qualify to use it for chronic conditions will have to wait.
The new law went into effect January first, and officials are still crafting the regulations, which many expect to be among the toughest in the nation. Dan Linn is the executive director of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. He says any medical marijuana sold in Illinois must be grown in the state, and setting up the infrastructure for cultivation centers and dispensaries will take time:
"If we wanted to get this medicine in the hands of the people that need it as soon as possible we would allow for them to either cultivate it themselves, or for them to be able to get it from another state that already has medical cannabis laws."
Linn says it could be 2015 before patients can access the medicine, and he hopes the problems with the program are sorted out sooner rather than later. People who want to use medical marijuana must have one of a few dozen specific diseases, and approval must come from a doctor with whom the patient has a prior relationship. Additionally, the law will expire in four years unless lawmakers act to extend it.