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Access to medical marijuana may take longer than planned

SPRINGFIELD -- State officials are closer to hashing out a system to get marijuana into the hands of the seriously ill.
SPRINGFIELD -- State officials are closer to hashing out a system to get marijuana into the hands of the seriously ill. Several agencies are collaborating to adopt rules and regulations to carry out the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

The Department of Public Health and state police are among four agencies forming rules, but some who support the law say there could be "too many cooks in the kitchen" to get things up and running in a timely manner.

Illinois is among 20-states which legalized medical marijuana, but the state's law is one of the strictest.

"Illinois is the only place that has a four-year pilot program. No other state has it."

The law takes effect January 1, 2014, but the agencies drafting the rules for the pilot program will have 120-days from then to present the final version to lawmakers.

Mother Earth Holistic Health, which supports marijuana for medicinal use, says any bumps in the road could hurt patients.

"Normally, it's not that many agencies, so therefore, we need to make sure they have the tools they need in place to implement this. We don't need red tape or it to take longer than necessary because we want the patients to get their meds as soon as possible."

Todd Hirstein has level four non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He says the potential wait could be devastating for some people as the process might not be finalized until next summer.

"In an effort to make what appeared to be a comprehensive and much more focused law, they made it almost an obstacle to someone like myself to begin to look for this new type of treatment."

But, Hirstein says, at least there's hope and the seriously-ill can rest-assured they'll get some relief next year.

"It's unfortunate in some respects, that it has to be put off, but it also is a light at the end of the tunnel that's not necessarily a train coming at you."

Representative Lou Lang (D), who sponsored the legislation, says he's pleased with the process thus far. There are 35-qualifying illnesses or conditions which would allow patients to get up to 2.5 ounces of the drug every two weeks.
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