Illinois now the 20th medical marijuana state!
MPP's Karen O'Keefe, Rep. Lou Lang, patients, and advocates watch Gov. Pat Quinn give Julie Falco a pen he signed HB 1 into law with.
Illinois has now joined 19 other states that have effective medical marijuana laws benefitting seriously ill patients. On Thursday, August 1, Gov. Pat Quinn signed “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act,” which will provide much-needed relief to patients in the state.
The bill’s primary sponsor in the general assembly, Rep. Lou Lang, told the Chicago Tribune, "Our goal from the beginning was to provide a better quality of life for some very sick people in Illinois." He indicated that with the governor’s signature, “it'll be a signal to many people that the state of Illinois still has a good deal of compassion, a good deal of concern for those of us, under a doctor's care, who wish to try a new type of therapy … to simply feel better."
The Marijuana Policy Project, hundreds of doctors and patients, and thousands of supporters in the state worked hard for nearly a decade to help bring this important law into existence. Thank you all for your dedication and perseverance!
Illinois’ medical marijuana law will become effective on January 1, 2014, and the executive branch will have four months from that date to implement rules for the state program. You can learn more about the law here.
To stay current on developments with the new program, make sure you’re subscribed to our Illinois email alerts. We can keep you posted with timely updates and tips on staying involved.
Illinois arrests tens of thousands of marijuana users each year
Despite the new medical marijuana law, Illinois' marijuana penalties remain harsh, and it has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the nation. Penalties range from jail sentences of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $1,500 for possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana (about one-tenth of an ounce) to upwards of three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines for possession of more than 30 grams. A study by the ACLU found that there were nearly 50,000 marijuana possession arrests in Illinois in 2010.
Meanwhile, 75% of Chicago murders went unsolved in 2012. Some cities provide relief to Illinois’ high penalties by giving officers the option to cite offenders and punish possession of small amounts with a fine only. Last summer, Chicago joined that list when Mayor Emmanuel approved an ordinance allowing officers to cite those in possession of 15 grams or less. Violators in the Windy City face fines of $200-500 if they are charged under city — not state — law. Results of these programs are mixed; however, news reports indicate not all offenders are treated the same. Statewide, enforcement of marijuana laws has also included alarming disparities: Despite similar marijuana use rates, blacks are 7.6 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Illinois as whites.
If you were arrested for a modest amount of marijuana and might be interested in speaking out, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also be in touch if you are a member of the clergy, a former or current law enforcement agent, a supportive medical professional, or if you otherwise have a personal connection to the issue. Please include your address or zip code.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. Please subscribe to our free legislative alert service to help make this the year Illinois finally shows it’s most vulnerable residents the compassion they deserve.