The state of Illinois now allows medical marijuana—with a few caveats. Medical marijuana users will have to relinquish their guns if they want to gain access to the drug.
Illinois’ stringent regulations, now in their first draft, would require patients to be fingerprinted and undergo a background check. They would also have to pay an annual fee of $150 for a special photo ID. And they would have to give up their (legally owned) weapons.
“You gotta start them out strict,” St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said of the regulations. “You can lighten them up later but do it the strictest way that you can and you don’t have to come back and enforce them later on.”
The ID fee is not covered by insurance, an issue met by opposition by some very ill patients. Other opponents say the provisions are a violation of Constitutional rights.
"I kind of feel like they're stomping on my constitutional rights," Im Champion told the Associated Press. Champion is a veteran with multiple sclerosis who owns a gun that his father gave him.
Still, advocates of the program see the regulations, however cumbersome, as a big step forward.
"We're really excited about a really transparent process. It's quite unprecedented for us to go through these steps," said Bob Morgan, coordinator of the state's medical cannabis program.
Applicants are waiting to see how the program will play out.
“Until patients actually get that physical card, we're still at risk," said Julie Falco, who uses marijuana for pain caused by multiple sclerosis. "If we're still getting our medicine from other sources, until we get that card, we will still be illegal."
Other Illinois agencies are drafting rules about dispensaries and cultivation centers.
Medical marijuana will be available for patients suffering from more than 40 conditions. The Illinois Department of Public Health will be open to public input on the regulations until Feb. 7.