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State

Ill. agencies hash out medical marijuana rules

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois officials have begun setting up a system to let people buy medical marijuana in the state.

Officials from Gov. Pat Quinn's office and at least three state agencies are meeting to draft rules that will govern medical marijuana distribution, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reported Tuesday.

State Rep. Lou Lang, the chief sponsor of the legislation, said he knows he's laid some difficult tasks on the agencies' plates, but he is pleased thus far with the progress they have made.

The state Department of Health is examining how to issue identification cards for medical marijuana users. The Department of Agriculture is determining the standards for growers. And the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is examining how to regulate the 60 dispensaries that will distribute the medical marijuana.

The agencies hope to present a final version of the rules to lawmakers in the spring.

Illinois is among 20 states that have legalized medical marijuana. Illinois' statute, which was signed into law in August, permits the use of medical marijuana to treat 35 serious illnesses or conditions, including muscular dystrophy, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Lupus. The prescribing physician and patient must have an established relationship, and patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of the drug every two weeks.

The law sets up a four-year pilot program for state-regulated dispensaries and about two dozen cultivation centers, where the plants will be grown. The law takes effect Jan. 1, but patients will likely have to wait until next summer to buy medical marijuana in Illinois.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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