Legislature passes two key bills in 2016, including one to decriminalize marijuana possession

 

Last update: June 7, 2016

 

Lawmakers in Illinois passed SB 10, which would extend the medical cannabis pilot program until July 2020. Under the current law, the program is set to end on January 1, 2018, so the extension is welcome news for the thousands of patients currently in the program. The bill also adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying medical conditions, which could bring relief to thousands in Illinois.

Lawmakers also passed SB 2228 earlier in the session. This bill would remove the possibility of arrest, jail, and a harmful criminal record for people in possession of a small amount of marijuana. These changes would vastly improve current law by replacing criminal penalties with a fine of between $100 and $200 for possession of up to 10 grams. The bill also makes improvements to current DUI laws, which today can lead to unimpaired drivers being considered under the influence weeks after consuming cannabis. Both efforts gained critical support from Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is expected to sign both. Once the bills are officially transmitted to his desk, he will have up to 60 days to sign them into law.


Challenges continue in medical cannabis program

 

The passage of SB 10 is welcome news to the many patients and supporters who have worked hard to improve the state medical cannabis pilot program. High costs for providers and cultivators, early delays in the program roll-out, and restrictive provisions that suppress patient and doctor participation have made for a difficult time. In addition to extending the program and including PTSD, SB 10 also makes it easier for patients to get support from doctors. While the state program still has its challenges, the bill is a marked improvement.

For more information on how to register as a patient, or to see announcements from state program officials, follow this link.


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