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Coming Soon to Illinois: Medical Marijuana
Posted on: 9/6/2013
Eldon A. Trame, MD
ISMS President

Eldon A. Trame, MD

Illinois is the latest domino of 20 states allowing some form of medical marijuana use. Despite being the law of our land now, it will be many months before anyone is able to ingest marijuana here for the sake of medical relief.

Although the law takes effect January 1, it only lays the foundation of Illinois policy. A series of regulations must be enacted before patient use can begin. Three separate Illinois departments will work to craft those regulations – so don’t expect expedience.

ISMS has taken some heat over our cautious approach toward medical marijuana. However, like many controversial issues, there can be multi-layered issues and concerns within the larger issue.

One we’ve identified  is a muddled legality that exists between state and federal law. Federal law prohibits the prescription of Schedule I controlled substances—which include marijuana—because they have no approved medical use. The new Illinois law allows physicians to certify bona fide patients to obtain medical marijuana. Certification is not the same as prescribing, the latter of which would put physicians in violation of federal law.

It remains to be seen what actions federal authorities may take in response to the new paradigm of state-approved medical marijuana. Recent statements from the U.S. Justice Department suggest the feds will not be pursuing enforcement of legitimate medical marijuana activity. However, it would be premature to risk one’s medical license until the rules are crystal clear.

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