In Part I of my discussion on the Illinois Medical Cannabis Act we covered the purpose of the Act along with the medical conditions covered by the Act. The full title of the Act is “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act”. A good deal of language was taken directly from the Act so that there was nothing lost to faulty context. In this post, we’re going to cover the next section of the Act which covers the general structure for the sale of medical marijuana here in Illinois.
The general framework set forth in the Act calls for a network of entities to produce, deliver, and sell marijuana to the end user. At the top, there will be 22 registered cultivation centers with one located in each of the State Police districts. The next level in the chain will be registered dispensing organizations. These will be the line level dispensaries where patients can go to buy their medicine. The last link in the chain will be the patient or caregiver who will be purchasing the cannabis.
Each and every entity in the chain will have to be registered with either the Department of Public Health (DPH) or the Department of Agriculture. The Act specifically calls for the DPH to create a registry of qualifying patients and that registry should be kept confidential. Those patients who qualify will receive an identification card that can be presented at a dispensary to purchase their medicinal cannabis. The DPH will also be tasked with creating and distributing educational materials about the health risks associated with the abuse of cannabis, adopting rules to administer the patient and caregiver registration program, and adopting rules establishing food handling requirements for cannabis-infused products.
Although this framework seems simple, it involves the coordination of multiple state agencies to get up and running. The Illinois Medical Cannabis Act was enacted at the beginning of the year and it will be some time before any cannabis ends up in the hands of the qualifying patients. It’s anyone’s guess as to how long that will take. However, people who expect to use medical cannabis should prepare now for what will be expected of them and how best to avoid problems with law enforcement.