Digital Journal) -Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation on Thursday to make Illinois the 20th state nationwide to legalize marijuana for medical use.
For multiple sclerosis sufferer Jim Champion of west suburban Somonauk, it is a watershed day as Illinois joins 19 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing pot for medical use, Chicago ABC7 reported.
“At one time I took 59 pills a day, and I was a zombie,” said Champion who has lived with for the debilitating condition for 25 years. “I would fall asleep in the middle of conversations.”
The only treatment that he says has helped is smoking marijuana.
“You could see in my legs that the muscles had stopped moving for the first time in days, and it brought such relief,” said Champion, 47.
As the Chicago Tribune points out, “under the new law, a person could be prescribed no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks–that’s enough to fill two small sandwich bags. In addition, the prescribing doctor must have a prior and ongoing medical relationship with the patient. And a doctor must find that the patient has one of a few dozen serious or chronic conditions for the marijuana to be prescribed.”
Patients would have to buy the marijuana from one of 60 dispensing centers throughout the state and would not be allowed to legally grow their own. Workers at dispensing centers would undergo criminal background checks, the stores would be under round-the-clock camera surveillance and users would carry cards that indicate how much they had bought to prevent stockpiling.
“I say this bill has more controls in it than any bill ever written, not only on marijuana but on drugs in general,” said State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the bill’s sponsor.
But opponents of the new law said those restrictions are not enough to prevent people from obtaining the drug for recreational use. Several law enforcement groups and others, including the Chicago Crime Commission, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the law will have unintended consequences, ABC7 writes. “The abuse is built-in, because the law permits people to drive right after smoking marijuana,” said former Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Peter Bensinger. “So that’s a danger not only to the smoker, but to every Illinois citizen on the highways.” The law takes effect Jan. 1, CBS Chicago reported.