Illinois Becomes 20th State With Medical Marijuana Law

Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed Illinois’ medical marijuana bill into law Wednesday, making the Land of Lincoln the 20th state to allow marijuana for limited medical purposes, in addition to the District of Columbia. Once the law goes into effect January 1, it will permit marijuana use with a doctor’s prescription for more than 30 specified ailments; require users, growers, and dispensaries to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks; and limit the number of growers and dispensaries. It also limits the amount of marijuana per person to the equivalent of two small sandwich bags over the course of two weeks.

“This is really an important day for healing in Illinois,” Quinn signed the bill with military veteran Jim Champion at his side. Champion, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said the bill will allow him to more than halve the number of pills he takes.

“We’re helping people who are dealing with pain every day … pain from diseases that are challenging to any human being, and it’s important that we do whatever we can to help their pain,” Quinn said.

The signing comes less than a day after Uruguay’s lower house passed a bill to legalize all marijuana, regardless of whether it’s for recreational or medical use. The bill is expected to become law, after easy passage in the Senate and strong backing from President José Mujica.