Despite new trial program, buying marijuana in Illinois is still illegal

The ringing in of the New Year also brought in several new laws that will impact the lives of those in Cook County and throughout the rest of Illinois. One of these was a new medical marijuana trial program that will give those with medical needs the ability to obtain marijuana legally with a prescription.

The regulations surrounding this four-year trial program are some of the toughest in the nation, says the Chicago Tribune. Under the law, users:

  • Are not allowed to grow their own marijuana.
  • Must already have an existing relationship with the doctor who will write a prescription for them.
  • And caregivers must undergo background checks and go through a fingerprinting process.
  • Promise not to sell the marijuana or give it away to others.

Those who work at the 22 grow centers and 60 dispensaries throughout the state must also adhere to the same guidelines.

Uncertainties About The Basics

Although the new program technically went into effect on January 1, 2014, the program is still in its infancy. According to the Daily Herald, those with diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis who could use marijuana to ease their pain may not be able to do so legally for a year or longer.

This is because Illinois officials are still working on the program's details and trying to decide things like what kind of relationship a patient has to have with a doctor before he or she can have a prescription and who will be permitted to grow and sell the drug. Because the state hasn't decided on these details, it is still illegal for those with medical needs to use marijuana despite the new law already being in effect.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health stated that prolonging this waiting period is essential to ensure that the state is being responsible. While a statement that came out at the end of last year from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulations says that plans could be finalized by the end of 2014, no official predictions can be made at this time.

Making Those With Medical Needs Wait Even Longer

Prolonging the finalization of the state's medical marijuana plan is particularly problematic for many. For example, an Illinois woman who struggled for years to ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis finally found relief in 2004 with marijuana, says the Lake County News-Sun. The drug, which she bakes into brownies and ingests three times a day, alleviates the numbness and spasms in her legs and also helps her combat insomnia. But, because using medical marijuana is still illegal in Illinois, she and other self-prescribed users are at risk for arrest until the state's plan is finalized.

If you have been questioned or arrested for the use of marijuana or another drug, consult with an attorney in your area who can help you assert your legal rights.