Editor's note: This is the final story in a two-part series on new laws set to be enacted in 2014.
MT. VERNON — The state's new medical marijuana law is set to go into effect Jan. 1, but it likely won't be until next fall or winter that the legislation is fully implemented, said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie.
“The critical importance of this legislation is to provide a better quality of life for some very sick people in the State of Illinois,” said Lang, the lead sponsor of the new law — House Bill 1.
The marijuana legislation is one of more than 200 new state laws set to be enacted next year.
After Jan. 1, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Illinois Department of Agriculture will have 120 days to draft rules regarding House Bill 1.
These rules include developing a registry of patients who are allowed to use marijuana, and creating regulations governing medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries, states a document from the Illinois Senate Republicans outlining the new laws for 2014.
“Starting Jan. 1, the rule-making process will begin,” Lang said.
The new legislation, signed into law last summer, permits authorized patients to use medical marijuana grown by an approved cultivation center and purchased from a registered dispensary, the Senate Republicans document states.
House Bill 1 allows for 22 cultivation centers and 60 dispensaries in Illinois, Lang said. Dispensaries can be established “virtually anywhere,” but only one cultivation center per state police district is allowed, he said.
Roughly 30 specific diseases and conditions are covered under the new law, meaning doctors will not be able to prescribe the drug for more general conditions like “chronic pain” or “severe nausea,” the document states.
Still, the measure has sparked controversy. State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said he voted against the bill because he believes it could lead to the legalization of marijuana in Illinois.