A total of 15 states have enacted laws that allow for the medical use of marijuana, according to a recent USA Today article. Meanwhile 14 additional states, including Illinois, are considering legislation that would legalize pharmaceutical pot (also known by its proper name, cannabis).
But while legislators ponder the burning question of whether or not it's a good idea for the state, Illinois citizens caught with less than 30 grams of the herb can be charged with a misdemeanor, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Possession of more than 30 grams gets into felony territory.
That means tokers in the Windy City who consider marijuana an important medicine may want to hold onto that Chicago criminal attorney's business card for a little while longer.
Medical marijuana is treated differently among the different states that have legalized it, California being the most permissive. Other than testimonials of the herb's effectiveness for relieving the symptoms of certain illnesses, particularly AIDS and cancer, supporters of medical pot argue that tax revenue from legal sales and less congestion in criminal courts are valid reasons as well.
The Illinois Medical Cannabis bill, SB 1381, would create the so-called Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. It would permit someone who has been diagnosed with a "debilitating medical condition," as well as their designated caregiver, to legally possess no more than two ounces of dried marijuana.
A complete list of what would be considered a "debilitating medical condition" can be found in the text of the bill.
To appease those who are on the fence, the law would have a "sunset" period of three years. If it seems to be working out, then lawmakers can vote it in for another three years or make it permanent.