Illinois’ Failure to Implement Medical Marijuana Law Leaves Patients in Limbo

Share this with your friends

The previous Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, washed his hands of making licensing decisions for the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program before he left office. It was a task he decided to leave to the man elected to take over his position, Bruce Rauner, despite having signed the The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (HB1) into law back on August 1st, 2013.

Unfortunately for the thousands of patients who could benefit from a functional medical marijuana program in Illinois, Rauner has openly stated before that if he had been Governor at the time the bill was passed, he would have vetoed it. This has led some advocates to wonder if the Illinois program is doomed to fail. The concerns are not entirely unfounded. After all, Rauner has already shown he has no issues diverging substaintially from his predecessor’s path, reversing almost all of Quinn’s eleventh hour executive orders right away after taking office. A closer reading of Rauner’s statements on medical marijuana, however, are somewhat reassuring.

Governor Rauner doesn’t seem to be inherently opposed to a state-run medical marijuana program; his issue is with the secret decision process that would grant a limited number of (theoretically highly lucrative) licenses to businesses, which he states invites corruption. Rauner supports a public auction for the licenses, which is transparent but does little to ensure ethical businesses are the ones getting the green light to grow.

In the end, only time will tell how this Pilot Program will play out, but the clock is ticking on the 2017 expiration date. Without some real progress and the passage of another bill, Illinois could soon rejoin the ranks of fully prohibitionist states. Given the growing public support for medical marijuana and full legalization, it seems inevitable that some form of relief will be legally available to Illinois citizens. The question is, how long will they have to wait and how many will suffer and even die unnecessarily before the state stops dragging its heels?

Previous Ladybud Magazine articles about Illinois and their medical marijuana program

Photo Credit:Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine