Illinois Medical Card Holders Face Political Hurdles

While Washington, Oregon and Colorado navigate the legalities of recreational pot, other states are trying to establish ground rules for medicinal use. Even though Illinois voters have approved medical cannabis in the state, there seems to be little government support and a lack of marijuana available. It has been almost a year and half since medical cannabis was legalized in Illinois, and not one patient has had access to use it.

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According to reports, the line of patients waiting for access is up to 650 and growing longer. The state has authorized medical marijuana to treat any condition on the list of 34, ranging from glaucoma to cancer and HIV/AIDS. While these patients have the legal right to use marijuana, there isn’t any available, and there doesn’t seem to be any groundwork supporting access.

The governor who approved medicinal marijuana is now out of office and a new governor says he would have vetoed the bill. This leaves patients worried the program is going to fall apart. What about the supporters? How can patients and constituents protect access to medical marijuana?

It is not surprising the actual cultivation and growth of medical cannabis is critical to the survival of programs. In Illinois, the problem seems to be getting approval for growing, processing, and distribution.

Doctors have already begun to approve patients to use medicinal marijuana, and yet, there is nowhere for patients to buy it. Patients have even been registered and paid fees for the program, but they have not been able to access marijuana for medical use. For many patients, the reality is disheartening. Those with serious medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and cancer could significantly benefit from medical marijuana, which has been proven to help with pain, muscle spasms, and other symptoms. Some patients have even considered moving out of state, simply to access the marijuana they know will benefit them, and that they are entitled to.

In Illinois, the issue for these patients is not that they don’t meet medical condition criteria, or that they don’t have a physician’s approval. The patients are simply unable to access cannabis. There are zero legal dispensaries in the state as a result of bureaucratic hurdles that have made it impossible to grow, process, and sell legal marijuana. Under the Illinois law, users are entitled to purchase 2.5 ounces from an “intrastate source.” The last day for dispensary owners and other growers to apply for a license was in September of 2014. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has had more than 3 months to assess applications, yet no licenses have been distributed.

Critics of the slow moving agency have said there are no good reasons for delays, although there are theories. Some blame political posturing. Others say, the agency simply hasn’t had time to process them. Patients are growing frustrated and business owners are losing money on the facilities and operations that have been stalled. With a new governor who hopes to reverse the bill, patients could face additional hurdles. Fortunately, in California, medical card holders are able to access medicinal marijuana. To learn more about your rights as a patient or a dispensary owners, consult with an experienced legal authority. Our Orange County marijuana attorneys can help you protect your rights and ensure that you are in compliance with California medical marijuana laws.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

More Blog Entries:
Getting Started in the Medical Marijuana Industry, May 15, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Is the War on Drugs Over? January 12, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog