Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed one of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the nation Thursday, making the state the 20th in the nation to legalize the substance.
The measure takes effect Jan. 1 and establishes a four-year pilot program for 60 state-run dispensaries and 22 “cultivation centers,” under 24-hour surveillance, where marijuana plants will be grown, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Under the law, doctors will be able to prescribe marijuana for more than 30 specific medical illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis, according to CBS Chicago.
”It’s very important we do whatever we can to ease their pain,” Quinn said at a new medical facility at the University of Chicago. ”It’s a very well-drafted bill.”
Doctors can’t prescribe more than 2.5 ounces over two weeks, the Tribune said. The patient and the doctor must also have an established and ongoing medical relationship.
Illinois’ policies are some of the country’s strictest, said Chris Lindsey, the legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization devoted to marijuana policy reform in the U.S. Unlike many other states where medical marijuana is legalized, Illinois won’t allow users to grow marijuana in their homes.
And, Lindsey said, medical marijuana patients will be both fingerprinted and required to go through a background check. In most states, he said, only growers or providers have to get fingerprinted. There will also be a cap on the number of dispensaries.
Last week, New Hampshire became the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana when Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law. The District of Columbia also allows medical marijuana, and only two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana for recreational use, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Contributing: The Associated Press