Illinois

Illinois NORML 'Appalled' That GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Would Delay Medical Marijuana Access

IllinoisGubernatorialCandidateBruceRauner

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Illinois NORML) on Tuesday announced they are "appalled" that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner wants to delay the application process for the dispensary and cultivation center licenses of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist, on Tuesday called for transparency in the awarding of the licenses, and he wants the Illinois Legislature to pass a new law regarding transparency and bidding in the application process. Medical marijuana patients have already waited for years for the original bill to pass, according to Illinois NORML, "and have now had to wait months for the agencies to adopt rules and regulations that would guarantee a professional program to help ensure that program will eventually be made permanent."

"My message to Pat Quinn is this: Governor, the jig is up," Rauner said on Tuesday. "Stop this rigged process before it moves forward any further. The application process for medical marijuana should not be held in secret where insiders win and taxpayers lose; it should be open and transparent."

Twenty-two licenses will be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for cultivation centers to grow medical cannabis. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, meanwhile, will issue 60 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Illinois: Chicago Hospital Wants To Sell Medical Marijuana, But Stymied By Federal Law

Illinois-RameshPatelSwedishCovenantHospital(Chicago)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If officials at Chicago's Swedish Covenant Hospital get their wish, authorized medical marijuana patients could one day buy their cannabis at a hospital dispensary, just like patients buying antibiotics or pain relievers at the hospital's pharmacy.

"We have professionals who very much would like to prescribe these drugs, we have the system in place to manage it and we have the patient population that needs it," said Marcia Jimenez, director of intergovernmental affairs at Swedish Covenant Hospital, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun Times. "It just made a lot of sense."

The hospital would like to be the first in Illinois to take advantage of the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state. Illinois has agreed to issue 60 permits to sell medical marijuana, 13 of which will be in Chicago.

Swedish Covenant would really like one of those, but is hamstrung by federal law, under which marijuana is illegal for any purpose, classified as a dangerous Schedule I controlled substance with no medical uses.

"If the hospital were to become a dispensary at this point, we would be violating the federal law and jeopardizing reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, Jimenez said. Hospital administrators are also worried they could be targeted for "criminal activity" and get in tax trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.

Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn Signs Bill To Expand Access To Medical Marijuana

Illinois-CompassionateUseOfMedicalCannabisPilotProjectAct

New law allows people suffering from seizure disorders to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it; it also allows minors to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program if they receive parental consent

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday signed a bill into law that will expand access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

SB 2636, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), expands the qualifying conditions of the program to include seizure disorders, such as epilepsy and those associated with brain injuries. Illinois is now one of 23 states with workable medical marijuana programs that allow the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of seizure disorders.

“Medical marijuana is an effective treatment option for people suffering from seizure disorders,” Lindsey said. “As more elected officials become familiar with its medical benefits, more states will adopt laws that allow it.”

SB 2636 will also allow the health department to develop rules so that minors may participate in the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program if they receive parental consent in addition to recommendations from their physicians. Illinois was one of three states with workable medical marijuana programs that prohibit minors from participating.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Now Legal - But Where Are The Authorizing Physicians?

DoctorSignsMMJAuthorization

Now that medical marijuana has come to Illinois, how can qualified patients get authorized to legally use it? That can be a problem when physicians willing to certify patients for the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program are problematically scarce, according to a new study.

In a week-long study conducted by De Paul University students, 294 physician offices were contacted from a list provided on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's physician profile search, and asked whether or not their practitioners would be certifying patients for the medical use of marijuana in Illinois.

The offices ranged from small family practices with only one physician, to large hospitals with hundreds of physicians practicing in one field. The offices were located throughout Illinois including the counties: Cook, Kane, Will, DuPage, Kankakee, Peoria, Sangamon, Winnebago, McHenry, Effingham, Marion, Kendall and Union.

Half of the physicians contacted were primary care physicians, while half were specialists in the fields of gastroenterology, ophthalmology, oncology, neurology, pain management, infectious disease and rheumatology.

Despite the broad variety of physicians contacted as part of the study, the results yielded an overwhelming answer of "NO" to patients seeking medical marijuana recommendations.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Could Be Available To Patients In Early 2015

IllinoisHeadlines

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients in Illinois who qualify under the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program could be able to start legally using marijuana early next year, according to program coordinator Bob Morgan, who is a lawyer for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"Right now, we think it's a good time for patients to be having that conversation with their physicians and their caregivers if they have any interest in participating in the program," Morgan said.

The powerful Joint Committee on Administrative Rules plan to meet in Chicago on Tuesday to discuss the rules to implement the state's medical marijuana program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

If the committee agrees on the rules, the process to register patients, dispensers and growers can begin.

Patients who are approved by the state as having debilitating medical conditions qualifying for medical marijuana will be able to get identification cards beginning in September, according to Morgan, but the application process will be staggered.

Applications for those who want to sell or grow marijuana will be out around the same time, Morgan said.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Conference This Weekend In Chicago

ChicagoCannabisConference

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"Don't be shy," says Amish Parikh, vice president of My Compassion, a Michigan-based nonprofit hosting a medical marijuana conference this weekend in Chicago. "It's OK to talk about marijuana -- cannabis."

As Illinois' medicinal cannabis rules are being finalized, the Chicago Cannabis Conference 2014 is being held this weekend, June 7-8 at Navy Pier. It will feature experts, advocates and businesspeople speaking about issues from the medicinal uses of cannabis to how to cook with pot.

According to Parikh, his group includes a consultant, a doctor and a nonprofit executive. They plan to use the conference to boost awareness of the medical benefits of marijuana, and to boost its image.

"If you respect the law, the law will stay," Parikh said. "We're trying to teach that as well."

Dr. Herman Toney, a medical marijuana advocate, will be joined at the conference by medical and scientific experts including naturopath Dr. Rob Streisfold, pediatrician Dr. Roberet Hicks, and cannabis researcher Dr. David Ostrow, reports Will Schutt at Medill Reports.

Panels will also be included where patients with brain cancer, leukemia, Crohn's, epilepsy and other conditions will speak about their experiences with medical marijuana.

Illinois: Chicago Police Still Making Marijuana Arrests, Despite New Law

ChicagoPoliceApprehendsMarijuanaPlant

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Surprise, surprise: Give cops the option to bust you, or not, for pot, and they will still bust you. Chicago police continue to arrest almost all people caught with small amounts of marijuana -- despite a city ordinance that allows them to write tickets and avoid the arrest, according to a new study.

When the ordinance was first passed in 2012, supporters -- including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy -- claimed it would enable officers to issue tickets and stay on the street, rather than go through the time-consuming process of hauling pot offenders to jail.

But apparently the police enjoy that process -- or else, they really dislike marijuana users.

About 93 percent of misdemeanor marijuana possession cases resulted in arrests by the Chicago Police Department in 2013, the first full year the decrim ordinance was in effect after being passed in 2012, according to the study from Roosevelt University's Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, reports the Associated Press.

Illinois: Senate Unanimously Passes Industrial Hemp Research Bill

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The Illinois Senate on Monday voted 51-0 to pass House Bill 5085, sending the bill to the House for concurrence. This bill would allow Illinois colleges and universities to conduct research on industrial hemp and would bring Illinois law in line with recent changes to federal policy on hemp.

“Illinois has a long history of being a producer of industrial hemp and it is time we get back to our roots and begin the process of growing this important agricultural product throughout our state once again,” said Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML. "Hundreds of millions of dollars of hemp products are sold annually throughout the U.S., and we need to bring the production of the plant back to Illinois instead of out-sourcing it to China, Europe and Canada."

Currently 12 states have laws which make the production of industrial hemp legal, but with limited exception none of those states have active cultivation of the plant due to federal laws prohibiting such production. HB 5085 does not go as far as the laws in those states and is limited to the research that was recently allowed by changes in federal law.

Industrial hemp is defined by the bill as a cannabis plant with no more than 0.3 percent THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis. (Science has shown, however, that particularly for hempseed oil production, higher-THC varieties produce more per acre.)

Illinois: Elected Officials Say It's Time To Legalize Marijuana

ILMedicalCannabis(HT)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of elected officials at a Monday press conference in downtown Chicago said it's time to legalize marijuana in Illinois.

Four Democrats from the Chicago area held the media event at the Cook County building, calling for the state to immediately decriminalize marijuana, and eventually to legalize its recreational use by adults, reports Brian Slodysko at the Chicago Sun-Times.

"The main difference between the War on Drugs and Prohibition is that, after 40 years, this country still hasn't acknowledged that the War on Drugs is a failure," said Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey.

Chicago-area state representatives Mike Zalewski, Kelly Cassidy and Christian Mitchell appeared at the press conference along with Fritchey.

Illinois law has already changed to allow the medicinal use of cannabis with a doctor's authorization; the state still drafting the rules for its medical marijuana program, described as one of the strictest in the nation.

Backers of the legalization effort cite statistics showing that marijuana prohibition targets racial minorities, because whites are not arrested at the same rates for the same crime.

"Marijuana usage among racial categories is essentially the same," Fritchey said. "The disparity in Chicago and Cook County is overwhelmingly disproportionate toward African-Americans and Latinos being arrested for simple possession."

Illinois: Proposed Rule Nixed; Would Have Barred Medical Marijuana Patients From Having Guns

IllinoisMedicalMarijuanaGunOwners

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposed rule that would have barred medical marijuana patients from getting Firearm Owner's Identification cards has been nixed.

State officials had posted preliminary rules for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program that barred medicinal cannabis patients or their caregivers from obtaining a FOID card if they were part of the program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

That provision has now been removed from rules that will be officially filed for review later this week, according to the Sun-Times. It was not immediately known if the same provision about Concealed Carry Weapons Permits had also been removed from the rules.

"I'm happy to see that they have changed the provision," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the medical marijuana legislation and sits on the committee that will vote on the official rules. "I did ask them to remove it. I'm not the only one who did."

Both patients and caregivers would have been required to certify their understanding of the conflict between gun ownership and medical marijuana use, reports Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Entrepreneurs Say Startup Fees Too High

IllinoisMedicalMarijuanaState#20

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prospective medicinal cannabis businesspeople in Illinois say the high cost of entry will prevent many with expertise from entering the new industry. Under proposed rules for the new law legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois, would-be cannabis farmers need a $2 million surety bond, $250,000 in liquid assets, $25,000 for an application fee, and $200,000 for a permit fee, as well as an approved site.

"We have the know-how," said Robert Boyce, who grows vegetables, flowers and herbs in greenhouses in Lake Zurich, reports Robert McCoppin at The Chicago Tribune. "We have the manpower, the familiarity with growing herbal and medicinal plants, knowledge of building greenhouses. But right now, you're looking at three to five million dollars in startup costs."

Yes, it seems having a green thumb isn't as important as having a lot of green, if you want to enter the medical marijuana industry in Illinois.

While state regulators claim initial costs could vary widely, they say they want to ensure that those who want to run medical marijuana cultivation centers or dispensaries have sufficient money to operate, especially early on when they have to make big investments before having any revenue.

Illinois: Poll Shows More Than 60% Support Removing Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

IllinoisHeadlines

Supporters call on members of the House of Representatives to pass bills approved last week by the House Restorative Justice Committee that would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois with a non-criminal fine

Panel discussion on collateral sanctions of marijuana arrests to take place Friday at Roosevelt University

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois on Thursday released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 63 percent of Illinois voters support making possession of an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. Only 27 percent oppose the proposal.

The poll found majority support across all reported genders, races, and political party affiliations. The survey, which polled 769 Illinois voters from March 28-30, is available at http://www.mpp.org/ILpoll.

Illinois: Marijuana Decrim Bill Advocates To Release Poll Showing Strong Support

ILMedicalCannabis(HT)

Group Will Also Release New Report Detailing Collateral Consequences of Being Arrested for Marijuana in Illinois

Central Illinois man who was denied public housing assistance 13 years after being arrested for possessing 2.5 grams of marijuana will join Illinois religious leader and others at a news conference Thursday at 11 a.m. CT in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois will on Thursday release the results of a statewide poll that show strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, will also be released. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University. For details, visit http://bit.ly/1jlWPe8.

Illinois: Senate Committee Approves Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana For Children

MedicalMarijuanaForChildren

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois is considering expanding its medical marijuana law to include children suffering from conditions like epilepsy. The Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would legalize such treatment for minors in a 8-0 vote.

"Letters have been sent by so many parents who suffer watching their children have seizures -- and not just one or two seizures: 100, 200, 1,000 seizures a week," said bill sponsor Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), reports Elise Dismer at the Chicago Sun-Times. "This could be a life-saving solution for children suffering from epilepsy."

Nicole Gross said her 8-year-old son, Chase, lost his ability to speak due to his seizures. "Following his dose of the cannabis oil, we started to see one to two seizures in two minutes, and then two minutes seizure free, five minutes seizure free, then eight ... and when we hit 20, I cried," Gross said, reports Craig Wall at Fox Chicago.

"As a mom, too, it's fun to see his personality, we're seeing more of his personality, we're seeing more of a sense of humor, he wants to tease and play, he likes to make jokes, he likes to hide things from us now and run away, and he knows what he's doing and he thinks it's funny," Nicole said. "And before, we did not really see that."

Illinois: Lawmakers To Hold Public Hearing On Allowing Medical Marijuana For People With Seizure Disorders

IllinoisMarijuana

State Lawmakers to Hold Public Hearing Tuesday On Proposal to Allow Access to Medical Marijuana for People With Seizure Disorders, Including Minors

The president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, a family physician, and parents of children with seizure disorders will testify in support of SB 2636

The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT on a bill that would allow access to medical marijuana for people suffering from seizure disorders, including minors. The hearing will be held in Room 409 of the Illinois State Capitol.

The president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Kurt W. Florian, Jr.; a Moline-based family practitioner, Dr. Margy Millar; and parents of two children suffering from seizure disorders are scheduled to testify in support of the measure.

SB 2636, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez, would add seizure disorders to the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act that was approved last year by the Illinois State Legislature.

"Medical marijuana has been found to produce significant benefits for patients suffering from frequent and severe seizures," said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "These patients deserve the same right to relief as those suffering from other conditions that qualify under Illinois's medical marijuana law. We hope the committee members will agree this is a commonsense proposal."

Illinois: Patients Would Lose Gun Rights Under Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules

GunsAndWeed

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois medical marijuana patients would have to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check and pay $150 a year, under rules proposed by state officials on Tuesday -- and they would also give up their Second Amendment right to own a gun.

The plan details how adults with 41 specified medical conditions, including cancer, AIDs, and complex regional pain syndrome, may apply to get a medical marijuana patient registry ID card which entitles them to buy medicinal cannabis, reports Robert McCoppin at the Chicago Tribune.

The proposed rules are expected to be expanded over the course of the next year; they govern how medical marijuana can be legally grown, sold and purchased. The Illinois Department of Public Health is accepting comments on the rules until February 7, at which point they will be submitted to a legislative panel for approval by the end of April.

Most of the rules deal with how patients can qualify for an ID card to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, or more if a doctor specifically certifies that it's necessary.

But one controversial proposal says that qualifying patients or caregivers may not possess firearms, even if they have an Illinois gun owner's ID card or concealed carry permit. Violators will be subject to arrest by state police under the proposed rules.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Law To Go Into Effect January 1

IllinoisMedicalMarijuana

State agencies will begin establishing system of regulated medical marijuana cultivation and distribution to individuals with serious illnesses; patients will NOT be protected from arrest until registry is established by Dept. of Public Health

Legislation adopted this year to establish a state-regulated medical marijuana program in Illinois will go into effect Wednesday. Licensed medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities are expected to begin producing medical marijuana and providing it to patients in late 2014.

Patients with qualifying medical conditions will NOT be protected from arrest until the Department of Public Health has established the patient registry and approved their individual applications to the program.

"We hope state officials will work swiftly to ensure seriously ill patients no longer face legal penalties for using medical marijuana," said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Illinois patients and their families have already waited long enough."

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP) will require coordination by three state agencies. The Department of Public Health will oversee the creation and management of the state's medical marijuana patient registry; the Department of Agriculture will regulate medical marijuana cultivation facilities; and the Department of Financial and Professional Responsibilities will regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Illinois: Chicago Medical Marijuana Authorization Clinic Flooded With Calls

GoodIntentionsMMJAuthorizationClinicChicago

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chicago medical marijuana authorization clinic Good Intentions has been deluged with phone calls -- 20,000 calls in just two months. Open since August 7, they immediately found that Illinois residents are more than ready for medicinal cannabis, according to president Tammy Jacobi.

Governor Pat Quinn last summer signed a bill allowing people with one of 42 qualifying conditions (including HIV, AIDS, cancer and other diseases) to legally possess and use marijuana starting in January, reports CBS Chicago.

Jacobi, who said she's run a similar clinic in Michigan for a couple of years, said people have been waiting a very long time safe access to medical marijuana. But patients will have to exercise, well, patience; they won't be able to get their state-issued medical marijuana cards for a bit longer.

"We have to follow the rules, and as much as we'd like to move this program along as quickly as we can to help some of these patients who are going to pass away before it takes effect," Jacobi said.

Good Intentions isn't a marijuana dispensary; it will sell no cannabis, but doctors there will provide medical marijuana authorizations for a fee of $99 to patients with qualifying conditions.

Illinois: Work Begins On Medical Marijuana Rules

ILMedicalCannabis(HT)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois officials have begun the work of setting up a system of regulations to let patients buy medical marijuana in the state.

Officials from at least four state agencies are meeting to draft rules that will govern medicinal cannabis distribution, reports Kurt Erickson at The Southern Illinoisan. Their goal is to have a final version ready for the Legislature by May.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, passed this summer, makes Illinois the 20th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It allows patients with serious medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's, multiple sclerosis, lupus and other conditions to legally use marijuana with a physician's authorization.

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), sponsor of the law, said he hopes state regulators can issue a draft of their rules before the May deadline. "I know I've laid some difficult tasks on their plates," Lang said. "I'm just pleased that they're meeting now."

Illinois: Widow Who Pushed For Medical Marijuana Not Allowed To Use It Under New Law

ILGovPatQuinnAndMichelleDiGiacomo

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michelle DiGiacomo of Chicago won't be allowed to use medical marijuana under the new law in Illinois -- because she used medical marijuana before the law passed.

When police stormed DiGiacomo's North Side Chicago apartment last year, she had known the day could come, since marijuana was still illegal in Illinois even for medical reasons. But she was still unprepared.

"I was about to experience the worst 28 hours of my life," said DiGiacomo, 53, who runs Direct Effect Charities, which serves needy Chicago Public Schools kids, reports Maudlyne Ihejirika at the Chicago Sun-Times. "We had discussed this possibility in the past; one I had hoped would never come to be."

The widowed mother had used marijuana for the past five years to control the pain of fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis and rotator cuff disease. Pharmaceuticals had resulted in adverse reactions, or had failed to provide relief.

After he September 13, 2012 arrest, she pleaded guilty on March 5 to Class 4 felony possession of marijuana, just five months before Gov. Pat Quinn signed the state's medical marijuana bill into law.

Now she's not allowed to take part in the program, because under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, a felony conviction disqualifies her from accessing medical marijuana. Advocates say the story highlights the new law's shortcomings.

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