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NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus People eligible to purchase medical marijuana will be able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces (the total amount shown here) every two weeks, according to recent changes to administrative rules and regulations being crafted by state officials.
More things you should know about medical marijuana in Illinois
If the current guidelines remain ...
* Eligible patients and caregivers will pay a 1 percent sales tax per prescription
* Registration fees will be $100 for eligible patients, $50 for eligible patients on Social Security Insurance and Social Security Disability and veterans, and $25 for caregivers.
* Twice per year, a 15-member Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee made up of qualifying patients and medical officials will meet to review petitions to recommend adding qualifying medical conditions.
* Cultivators will pay a 7 percent privilege tax on sales to dispensaries
* Eligible patients must have one or more of the following: cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation and syringomyelia, spinocerebellar ataxia, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, myoclonus, dystonia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, RSD; (complex regional pain syndromes Type I), causalgia, CRPS (complex regional pain syndromes Type II), neurofibromatosis; chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, interstitial cystitis, myasthenia gravis, hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, or residual limb pain.
Tim Gugerty takes pills to alleviate symptoms stemming from Crohn’s disease — one of a long list of medical conditions that can qualify an Illinois resident for a medical marijuana prescription.
Gugerty said he is interested in alternative therapies such as medical marijuana over pharmaceutical drugs if it is a viable option.
“It’s tough to tell what I’m going to do, but I want to discuss it with my doctor to see if it’s a sound idea,” the Ohio, Ill., resident said. “The price of medicine for Crohn’s disease is expensive. And I worry about the side effects down the road.”
Illinois Department of Public Health recently released a revised list of proposed rules for implementing the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.
The Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is expected to finalize the rules soon and the law will go into practical effect this summer.
“We’ve ensured a transparent rulemaking process by offering the public a chance to weigh in on the proposed medical cannabis rules, even before seeking legislative approval,” announced Bob Morgan, IDPH general counsel and statewide program coordinator in a recent press release. “The rules make sure Illinois has the nation’s strictest safeguards to prevent abuse, while offering relief and help to eligible patients to ease their suffering.”
The rules, however, are so strict they could make growing and obtaining medical marijuana overly cumbersome for farmers and eligible buyers.
Perhaps the most striking part of the restrictions is the maximum amounts of medical marijuana eligible people are allowed to purchase at a pharmacy.
That amount is 2.5 ounces every 14 days, possibly more if special restrictions are met. For perspective, a first-time conviction of possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana is a Class 4 felony carrying the possibility of a $25,000 fine and 1-3 years in prison.
Peru Police Det. Dennis Potthoff said most marijuana confiscations involve amounts that qualify for felony charges. Whether it’s illegally used recreationally or for sale is a different matter.
“Is 2½ ounces a lot? I guess it depends on the purpose,” he said. “Maybe people will need that much for their pain.”
A pot farm near you? Medical marijuana will be prescribed the same as drugs at a pharmacy. Patients would be regulated and require doctors’ prescriptions.
As for growers and sellers, the pilot program limits dispensaries to 60 in the state and one cultivation center in each state police district except for district 15 which is the Illinois Tollway System.
Illinois State Police District 17 includes La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, so there is a possibility the Illinois Valley could soon have its very own pot farm.
But it won’t be easy.
Cultivation centers will be inspected weekly by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and be monitored by state police using live video.
A prospective local medical marijuana farmer will have to pay a $25,000 nonrefundable application fee, show proof of $500,000 in liquid assets and provide other documentation required by the state agriculture department. And then the department will distribute only one license, despite however many applications it receives.
As for dispensary locations, Illinois Valley residents using medical marijuana may have to travel to get their prescriptions filled.
A pharmacy wishing to be licensed to distribute medical marijuana must pay a $5,000 non-refundable application fee, show proof of $400,000 in liquid assets and provide other documentation required by the state agriculture department. And then the department will distribute only a limited number of licenses per region.
Given the expensive application fees and liquid asset requirements, medical marijuana growers or dispensaries are not likely to happen in the Illinois Valley.
Bureau County Farm Bureau president Bill Naffziger said the monetary requirement and non-refundable application fee would be too much for any area farmer to consider.
“I’m not sure if that would be economically feasible for any area farmer,” he said.
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