Earlier this year Illinois signed a medical marijuana bill into law, creating the Illinois medical marijuana program. The Illinois medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the country. Illinois took a step towards implementing the new law this week when it started accepting applications from patients. Per KSDK:
Tuesday September 2, 2014 residents with last names starting with letters A – L can apply. Then on November 1, 2014 all other residents last names M – Z can apply. It will take about 45 days to get your card or be denied, but don’t forget dispensaries and cultivation centers still aren’t open.
While patients are able to start applying for the Illinois medical marijuana program, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to implement the law, and to fix it. With the current rules, only about 10,000 people are able to qualify for medical marijuana in Illinois. That’s out of a population of 12.88 million Illinois citizens (as of 2012). To put that into perspective, Oregon has less than 4 million people, and has almost 65,000 patients, with hundreds of thousands more eligible to enroll.
As the quote from the article pointed out, even when patients get approved to the restrictive program, they can’t grow their own medicine. They have to acquire it from a dispensary or cultivation center, neither of which exist right now. It’s great that Illinois has a medical marijuana program, but it’s largely symbolic at this point. If you are in Illinois, contact your lawmakers and tell them to speed up the roll out of dispensaries, to add more conditions to the list of qualifying conditions, and to allow home cultivation.