Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill Awaits Gov's OK

Illinois' state Senate voted in favor of medical marijuana on Friday, leaving advocates of medicinal pot to wait on Gov. Pat Quinn to sign or veto the bill.

If Gov. Quinn signs the bill into law, Illinois will become the 19th state to allow medical marijuana, reports The Huffington Post.

Learning its lesson from past medical pot legislation, the Illinois bill is sophisticated enough to handle future legal issues.

Limited Program

Illinois' medical marijuana bill carves out a somewhat narrow four-year pilot program which would allow doctors to prescribe no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks to eligible patients.

In order to be eligible to be prescribed, according to the Chicago Tribune, patients must have one of 33 "serious or chronic conditions" such as:

  • Cancer,
  • Multiple schlerosis,
  • HIV/AIDS,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Tourette's syndrome, or
  • Severe fibromyalgia.

Some of these strict limits brought Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon around to supporting the bill for compassionate medical marijuana use, reports the Associated Press.

Protection for Workers

In other states where medical marijuana is legal, such as Colorado, employers have triumphed in court after firing employees who have legally been using prescription pot.

Illinois' bill, called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, prohibits discrimination by businesses based on an employee's status as a medical marijuana patient.

However, the Act exempts employers for disciplining an employee when he:

  • Is impaired at work,
  • Possesses or uses marijuana while on the clock, or
  • Fails a drug test, if failing the test would be a violation of federal law or cost the employer federal funding.

Penalties and Limits

For those like state Sen. Kyle McCarter who are worried about an "FDA-unapproved addiction-forming drug" hitting the streets, according to the Tribune, the Act imposes strict limits and penalties to prevent non-medical use and even the use of marijuana in public.

Registered medical marijuana patients are still subject to criminal charges if smoking pot:

  • On elementary or middle school grounds;
  • In a car, school bus, or any motor vehicle;
  • At a licensed day care facility; or
  • In any public place.

The tentative law even carves out a separate criminal penalty for lying to arresting officers about being a medical marijuana patient: a fine of up to $1,000.

With these strict guidelines and restrictions, if Illinois' medical marijuana bill is signed into law, most residents won't be flaunting their right to use medical marijuana, even if it becomes legal.

Related Resources: