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Learn About Marijuana In Illinois

Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana in Illinois

Illinois, known for its champion sports teams and harsh winters, passed a bill in 2013 authorizing a pilot medical marijuana program. This initiative sought to expand health treatment options for patients who had yet to see adequate relief using traditional methods. Five years later, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act has approved over 21,000 applications.

Is Marijuana Legal in Illinois?

Currently, Illinois has a medical marijuana program in place. Passing both the House and Senate, the 2013 program, titled ‚??The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act,‚?? is operational and serves over 20,000 active patients.

Where Are Dispensaries Located in Illinois?

The medical marijuana program requires the creation of districts where one or more dispensing locations may be licensed. When the final rules and regulations were set, the total number of districts was 43. As of June 2017, more than 50 medical marijuana dispensaries were available to patients across the state. Additionally, more than 20 growers are licensed to provide these stores with product.

Are They Medical or Recreational Dispensaries?

Currently, only medical marijuana may be legally sold in Illinois.

Who Can Become a Medical Patient in Illinois?

Illinois has a two-step process to become a medical marijuana patient. First, a patient must meet with a qualified health professional (M.D. or D.O. in good standing) to be certified as being affected by at least one of the approved conditions or ailments:
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Arnold Chiari malformation
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  • Complex regional pain syndrome type 2
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Dystonia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia
  • Seizures, such as those associated with epilepsy
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • Tourette's syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome
Illinois residents may petition the Department of Public Health to request another illness or disease be added to the list, provided there is evidence-based medical research to verify the claim of therapeutic benefit. Illinois does accept pediatric and youth MMJ patients, with further certification requirements.

How Do I Become a Medical Marijuana Patient in Illinois?

After receiving a certification from a state-licensed physician identifying possible relief from pain, nausea, or other symptoms associated with an approved condition, you must submit an application to the Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH). The DPH hosts the application on their website, where it can be electronically submitted. The application requires three things:
  • Proof of Illinois residency
  • Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate
  • Fingerprints and background checks for patients or qualifying caregivers
Patients under the age of 18 may also participate in the program and are not subject to being fingerprinted. Instead, all patients under 18 are required to have their parent or legal guardian register as their direct caregiver. Patients under 18 must have their medical records certified by two physicians and the parents must fill out a Medical Cannabis Custodial Parent and Legal Guardian Attestation form, available at the Department of Public Health. Applications may be filled out online. Registration fees are associated with the duration the registration will remain valid. For instance, $100 is associated with one year of active registration, whereas $250 will allow the registration to instead remain active for three years. There are additional exemptions for veterans being treated at a VA hospital.

Where Can I Consume Marijuana in Illinois?

Unfortunately, patients with active state medical registrations may not smoke marijuana in any place where it can be assumed someone could easily observe their behavior. The state has not made the same distinction, however, in the use of edible or topical forms of medical cannabis products. Still, there are several places designated as forbidden regardless of product form. These include:
  • On a school bus
  • On the grounds of any educational facilities
  • In a correctional facility or detention center
  • In any motor vehicle
  • In any business designated for child care
  • In the presence of individuals under the age of 18
  • Near active-duty law enforcement and emergency services personnel

How Do I Find Work in the Illinois Marijuana Industry?

Becoming an employee of a medical dispensary requires an individual to provide evidence of Illinois residency, certification of identity (a passport and a piece of mail not older than 30 days, for example), and submit to fingerprinting and a background check. The check evaluates the criminal history of applicants, denying applicants who have past felony-level drug convictions.

Is Drug Testing for Marijuana Legal in Illinois?

The Act does not require any private business to allow consumption of marijuana products. Patients are not protected from workplace policy concerning drug use, and medical marijuana is not protected from such policies. Typically, employers prefer to avoid the use of medicated products while at work, with most policies weighing on-the-job impairment over a positive test for marijuana.

Is Marijuana Delivery Legal in Illinois?

Delivery is currently legal from a cultivator or product manufacturer to a retail dispensing facility. However, as of August 2018, dispensary locations cannot deliver to the patient.

How is Marijuana in Illinois Dispensaries Paid For?

Illinois dispensaries currently only accept cash. The Illinois Treasurer in early 2017 sent a letter to the Trump administration requesting guidance on banking, where card services and financial services have been continually upended by federal laws and regulation.

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Illinois Marijuana Laws

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was passed in 2013 through the state assembly. As this change was made by lawmakers rather than through a voter referendum, state legislators were able to perform a comprehensive review of the existing medical marijuana programs across the country. The Illinois medical cannabis program is an intensely-regulated pilot program expiring every four years unless renewed by lawmakers. The finalized regulations affect everything from how much an individual may purchase or possess to the hours a dispensing facility may be open, including fines and penalties for failing to comply.

Purchase and Possession Limits

Any patient registered in the state‚??s medical marijuana program is eligible to purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana in any two week period, setting a standard of five ounces per month. A patient may request a higher purchase limit, provided the patient‚??s certifying physician views increased limits as therapeutically necessary and documents such information into the patient medical record. Patients may be subject to fines and criminal penalties if they possess more than the approved amounts. As a result of decriminalization efforts, Illinois residents not enrolled in the state medical cannabis program are able to avoid criminal penalties for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. However, mandatory minimum sentencing and felony charges await anyone who exceeds the 10-gram limit without a valid medical reason.

Marijuana and Driving

Driving While Intoxicated

Under no circumstance does the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act authorize the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of medical cannabis products. Intoxication may be defined by the concentration of THC in an individual's blood, saliva, urine or other bodily fluid, and is not to exceed five nanograms per milliliter of blood or ten nanograms per milliliter of other bodily fluids. Patients caught in operational control of a motor vehicle in excess of the defined limits are subject to misdemeanor charges, along with any criminal fines and penalties associated with such a charge.

Driving While in Possession of Marijuana

Marijuana may be transported legally in Illinois under three conditions:
  • The individual is a registered patient in the medical cannabis program and has their registration card.
  • The individual is a registered caregiver in the medical cannabis program and has their registration card.
  • The individual is a registered agent of a licensed, operating dispensing organization.
Patients and caregivers may transport medical products, provided the products are not used while inside the vehicle. The products must be in an inaccessible, sealed container while the vehicle is moving. Patients and caregivers may transport medicated products around the state provided they meet these requirements. Anyone caught in violation are subject to misdemeanor charges and up to two-year revocation of their medical certification.

Marijuana and Minors

Decriminalization legislation was passed in 2016. The law was significantly able to reduce criminal penalties for adults yet left the penalties for youth populations intact. Patients under 18 may be registered in the state medical cannabis program; however, all purchases are to be completed by the patient‚??s caregiver - a legal guardian or parent. Additionally, schools are not required to allow cannabis use by medical patients.

Growing Marijuana at Home

Illinois does not currently allow patients to grow marijuana at home. Any person caught growing marijuana at home is subject to various criminal penalties depending on the total quantity of plants. If caught cultivating five or fewer marijuana plants, misdemeanor charges, up to one year in jail, and fines not exceeding $2,500 are possible. Any individual caught cultivating between six and 49 plants are subject to felony-level criminal charges, fines up to $25,000, and as much as ten years in prison. Felony charges, prison time up to 3o years, and fines as high as $100,000 exist for those growing 50 plants or more.
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