Illinois expands medical marijuana for epileptics, minors

Chicago — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Monday that opens up medical marijuana to treat symptoms of epilepsy in adults and children.

The legislation expands Illinois’ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which came into effect as a four-year pilot program on Jan. 1, to a group previously not included in the original bill.

“This legislation was really an initiative by scores of families in Illinois with children that experience literally hundreds of seizures a day,” the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago president and CEO Kurt Florian said. “Many of these families have uprooted for treatment in Colorado and have experienced dramatic reductions in seizures from oil-based, low- to zero-THC medical cannabis.”

It’s not only patients with epilepsy who will now be eligible for medical marijuana. The new law — which will take effect in 2015 — also expands the availability of non-smokable medical marijuana to minors with certain conditions who have parental consent.

“My colleagues and I have been deeply moved by the plight of these children and their parents, who courageously and tenaciously pursue any option that could bring relief and better health to their kids,” Chicago’s State Senator Iris Martinez said.

Illinois was the 21st state to implement a medical marijuana program, and the pilot program places restrictions on the number of growers and dispensaries allowed in the state. 

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