The State of Illinois has joined 22 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing patients to use marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. However, the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is subject to some of the strictest regulations in the country, and simply obtaining a prescription from a physician is not enough to avoid any legal issues.
Who May Obtain a Medical Marijuana Prescription?
Patients must have an established relationship with a physician who prescribes medical cannabis, and the marijuana can only be prescribed to treat one of 39 conditions approved by the pilot program. These conditions currently include seizures, rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. Other conditions may be added to this list in the future. Finally, all prescriptions must be registered with the state and reviewed by the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program before a state medical marijuana card will be issued.
Illinois Medical Marijuana May Still Land You in Legal Trouble
Under Illinois law, it is illegal to smoke marijuana within close proximity of a child. The state’s medical marijuana laws do not make an exception in cases where the marijuana was prescribed for a physician, so even smoking legal medical cannabis in the presence of a minor may result in criminal charges and possible issues with the Department of Children and Family Services. The law, however, is silent, on ingesting marijuana in other forms, such as edibles or lotions, so it’s unclear how a court would rule in one of those cases.
Furthermore, despite the quasi-legal status of marijuana in Illinois, it remains illegal at the federal level in any form. Even if you have a medical marijuana card issued by the state of Illinois, federal law enforcement officials may confiscate marijuana from you, and you could be subject to federal prosecution. Most federal cases involve large amounts of marijuana, however.
Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, employers are also able to continue to drug test employees, and may fire them or subject them to other discipline in the event of a positive drug test.
Finally, if you have been accepted into the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, it is important to follow all of its regulations. Failure to do so may result in expulsion from the program and revocation of a medical marijuana card. In that event, you will have few legal protections if a police officer finds you to be in possession of marijuana.
Need Legal Help?
Navigating new laws, especially those involving medical marijuana, is a tricky proposition. While marijuana is legal to use for treatment of certain medical conditions, it is still heavily regulated, and violation of those regulations could still result in criminal prosecution. That’s why it’s so important to contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one have been charged with a crime involving medical marijuana or other drugs in the Chicago area. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.