On August 2, 2013, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. But this does not mean that home growers or casual users can inhale easily.

The law creates a four-year pilot program which goes into effect January 1, 2014. Under the law, patients with debilitating medical conditions may obtain marijuana from one of 60 licensed dispensaries. The law specifies 35 eligible medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s, glaucoma, lupus, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and AIDS.

Patients or doctors may not grow their own cannabis but may purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks from a dispensary. Marijuana will be grown in licensed cultivation centers, one for each of Illinois’s 22 police districts. Centers must be at least 2,500 feet away from schools or daycare facilities and must have 24-hour surveillance and inventory controls.

Even if you quality for registrered use, you may not possess the pot in a school, school bus, day care, or correctional facility. Nor may you keep it in your car unless it is sealed and inaccessible to you while driving.

You may not smoke publicly or in a motor vehicle, school bus, school, correctional facility, day care, or knowingly near a minor. You may not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence or otherwise act negligently. The new law creates a bit of a dilemma since it is currently illegal to drive in Illinois with any traces of marijuana in your system, and if you were in an accident, it is unresolved how judges will treat you.

You may not give or sell your cannabis to others or fraudulently try to obtain a registration card or knowingly obtain more than your allotted amount.

A business, school or university may still bar the use of medical marijuana.

If you fail to comply with the law, you may be charged with any criminal penalties for unlawful possession or sale, along with fines and additional offenses.

If you are charged with violating the new law, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case to help devise the best possible defense. Perhaps you had marijuana in the car, but the police lacked the probable cause to stop you. Or you did not know you were too close to a minor when you were smoking.

If you have questions about your particular case or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

For more information, see Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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