Rules that will govern the state’s medical marijuana program were approved July 15 by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The rules detail how state agencies will comply with the legislation and administer the program.
Applications for those seeking to use, grow or sell medical marijuana are expected to become available in August, with the state starting to accept and review applications in September. The state’s medical marijuana program coordinator has said patients with the most serious medical conditions may be able to begin buying medical marijuana early next year.
The “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” enacted last year (HB 1) authorized a four-year pilot project that will expire in 2017.
It authorizes a registered qualifying patient to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis during a 14-day period.
It also established distributing criteria for cultivation centers and required them to be registered by the Department of Agriculture. Cultivation centers may only provide medical cannabis to dispensing organizations whose purpose is to dispense cannabis and paraphernalia to qualified patients. Dispensing organizations are registered by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
The Department of Public Health is required to maintain a confidential registry of qualifying patients authorized to use medical cannabis as well as their caregivers. The web based verification system will be available to each regulatory agency in the Act as well as law enforcement personnel and dispensing organizations on a 24 hour basis for purposes of verification and tracking.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, estimates more than 10,000 patients could eventually sign up in Illinois.
Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh made a rough calculation for Illinois' annual sales of $20 million to $30 million. Growers would pay a 7% privilege tax on their marijuana sales and the state will collect up to $6 million in annual fees for permits.
Illinois is one of a growing number of states that has authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with New York recently becoming the 23rd state.
Patients will pay $100 a year to apply for a medical marijuana card. Disabled people and veterans will pay $50 annually.