[JURIST] Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] on Thursday signed [press release] House Bill 1 [text] into law, making Illinois the twenty-first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act is one of the strictest laws to do so, requiring users of the drug to carry an identification card, enroll in a confidential multi-agency verification system run by the Department of Health, and obtain a written certification from a physician regarding the specific needs for marijuana and the expected outcomes. The text of the bill also emphasizes the historical medicinal uses of the plant and multiple studies showing it is effective treatment for those with long-term pain and suffering. Upon signing, Quinn stated, "This new law will provide that relief and help eligible patients ease their suffering, while making sure Illinois has the nation’s strictest safeguards to prevent abuse." He was joined by multiple members of the Illinois legislature who approved the bill in May [JURIST report] and noted the safeguards put in place to avoid abuse of prescriptions, and the underlying need to relieve chronic pain.
The sale and use of marijuana [JURIST news archive] remains a controversial issue in the US and abroad. In May the Vermont State Legislature approved a bill that replaces criminal penalties with civil fines [JURIST report] for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and up to five grams of hashish. Also in May the Supreme Court of California ruled [JURIST report] unanimously that local governments may outlaw medical marijuana dispensaries, upholding a ban enacted by the city of Riverside in 2010. In February the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the private sale of medical marijuana is illegal [JURIST report]. Additionally, the top court in Ontario upheld Canada's general ban on marijuana [JURIST report]. In December an Arizona judge ruled that the state's medical marijuana law is constitutional [JURIST report] and instructed the state to permit dispensaries to open. In November Washington , Massachusetts and Colorado [bill texts, Harvard Crimson report] legalized the drug [JURIST report] via state ballot initiatives and referendums.