In the weeds of the state’s medical marijuana law

weed illinois 3Let’s assume I survive the registration process. Can I just go to Walgreens for my marijuana, or do I have to visit the guy down the street growing plants in his basement?

There will be no green in Walgreens. And the guy down the street won’t be able to sell it to you under the law either—unless he gets a license to turn his basement into a “dispensing organization.” To acquire medical cannabis, registered patients have to pick one—and only one—dispensary, register their selection with the state, and then go to the site of the dispensary to make a purchase. The dispensary is then required to record the transaction with the state so that all cannabis is tracked.

I had no idea there were any pot shops in Illinois.

There aren’t—not yet. But under the law, the state will be authorized to issue as many as 60 dispensary licenses to private operators. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation hasn’t set up all the rules yet, but the dispensaries will be required to be “geographically dispersed throughout the State to allow all registered qualifying patients reasonable proximity and access.”

If a patient realizes her chosen dispensary is too far away, doesn’t like the cannabis there, or wants to try another shop for any reason she needs to notify the state.

Are 60 dispensaries enough for 16,500 clients?

Advocates disagree.

“In rural areas, where a dispensary could be 30 or 40 miles away, that’s going to make it difficult to get to,” argues Dan Linn, the executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“People are driving hours now to buy the product illegally,” counters Representative Lang. “I don’t imagine there will be anyone in Illinois who wants this product who has to drive more than an hour for it.”

Do I have to smoke or ingest my marijuana at the dispensary? I was hoping to catch Sharknado this weekend—am I allowed to take a little medicine with me?

Registered patients are allowed to carry legally purchased cannabis, as long as they have valid registration cards with them. But use is banned on school property, in cars, and in all other public places “where an individual could reasonably be expected to be observed by others.”

And the dispensary is out too—patients aren’t allowed to use cannabis there either.

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