bruce rauner

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Sales Reach New High At $2.9 Million

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois officials announced Wednesday that July retail medical marijuana sales reached a new high at $2.9 million.

Medical marijuana sales have steadily climbed since November 9, when it first became available. June was the previous highest month at $2.57 million.

There are nearly 8,891 medical marijuana patients in Illinois and 40 registered dispensaries. Total retail sales since the program launched came to $16.3 million at the end of July.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed new legislation last month adding post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions and extending the pilot program until July 2020.

Patients who are terminally ill can apply for a medical marijuana card without a fee. But new patient identification cards for other patients will cost $300 and be valid for three years. Annual fees had been $100. Veterans and those who receive disability benefits can get a three-year card for $150.

Chicago patient advocate and industry analyst Joel Erickson says the price is too high.

"Patients are seeing these numbers and are scared about how they're going to pay for access," Erickson said. "That's a car or rent payment without any help from insurance. There needs to be alternatives for low or fixed-income patients to be able to afford access."

Illinois: Judge Orders State To Authorize Medical Marijuana For PTSD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Cook County judge ruled Tuesday that Illinois must add post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

The ruling may be rendered moot, as legislation is pending that would do the same thing. Gov. Bruce Rauner's office had indicated he will sign it, after previously blocking expansion of the program.

There are pending lawsuits seeking to add seven other conditions to the list, including cases involving chronic pain and osteoarthritis that are before the same judge.

In his opinion, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen criticized Illinois Department of Health Director Nirav Shah for failing to follow the recommendations of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The judge gave the state 30 days to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions, and scheduled a follow-up hearing to ensure compliance.

The case was filed by Daniel Paul Jabs, a military veteran with PTSD.

Attorney Michael Goldberg, who handled the case, said he hoped the other conditions would be added on the same basis.

"This judge… stepped in to protect (Jabs') health, safety and welfare," Goldberg said, "The judiciary seems to be sending a message to the executive branch."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Director Resigns After 1 Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An attorney appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to lead the Illinois medical marijuana program last year has resigned to pursue work in the private sector.

Joseph Wright, 32, was in the position just over one year. He told the Associated Press on Monday that he felt the time was right to explore other opportunities, perhaps in the medical marijuana industry.

Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for the governor, conformed the resignation on Monday. She told the AP the governor's office "will have no further comment" on the reasons for the resignation.

Wright was paid $53,370 last year according to a public database of state employee's salaries. His resignation was turned in on Friday. He will be replaced by Jack Campbell, the program's bureau chief in the Department of Agriculture, Kelly said.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Applaud Rauner's About-face

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are happy that Gov. Bruce Rauner has changed his mind about expanding the Illinois pilot program, saying it will help more patients who are suffering.

Democratic state Rep. Lou Lana announced an agreement Friday with the Republican governor to extend Illinois' four-year pilot program to 2020. It was originally set to end in 2018, but supporters argued more time was needed because medical marijuana sales just started in November 2015.

The agreement adds post traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions. Rauner had previously rejected recommendations to add conditions.

Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple is chairwoman of Illinois' Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. She says she's "thrilled" more patients will benefit.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Cheer Governor's About-Face On Expanding Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are applauding Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's about-face on expanding the state's medicinal cannabis pilot program, saying it will allow time to show the program is working and help more suffering patients.

Democratic Rep. Lou Lang on Friday announced an agreement with the Republican governor to extend the state's four-year medical marijuana pilot program to 2020, reports the Associated Press.

The program had been set to expire in 2018, but advocates said more time is needed because medicinal cannabis sales only began in November 2015.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the Illinois Legislature, adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

Governor Rauner had previously balked at adding any conditions, despite recommendations from the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Chairwoman Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple of the board said she's "thrilled" that more patients will now benefit from the program.

Photo of Gov. Bruce Rauner: Chicago Now

Illinois: Governor Likely To OK Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said Thursday he would "probably be comfortable with" a proposed bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The bill was approved by the Illinois House on Wednesday in a 64-50 vote. It was passed by the Senate in April with a 40-14 vote. The bill would ensure that no one in Illinois could be criminally charged for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana.

Gov. Rauner vetoed a bill last year to make possession of up to 15 grams of weed a ticketable offense. He said the bill would allow people to carry too much pot and that fines should be more than $55 to $125.

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, sponsored the new Senate version of the bill which would allow people caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less to face slightly larger fines of $100 to $200.

Tickets would be expunged automatically twice a year.

Possession of up to 2.5 grams is considered a class C misdemeanor under current law, and can be punished by up to 30 days in jail and a possible $1,500 fine. Possession of more than 2.5 grams is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

Illinois would become the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana possession if Rauner signs the bill.

Illinois: House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Illinois House voted today, May 18, to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a ticket-based penalty rather than a misdemeanor.

Previously, anyone caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less could have faced a fine up to $1,500 and a possible six month stay in jail. If the governor signs Senate Bill 2228, police will start issuing tickets ranging from $100 to $200 per offense instead of arresting offenders.

Moving simple marijuana possession to a civil penalty from a criminal penalty will help achieve Go. Bruce Rauner's goal of reducing the state's prison population by 25 percent by 2025.

Another positive outcome is that a civil penalty for possession will not burden people with a debilitating criminal record, which can prevent a person from getting a job, applying for student loans, or finding a place to live.

The change will also save the state money. Jailing people for low-level possession offenses is expensive, costing Illinois $38,000 a year per prisoner. Illinois prisons are currently operating at 150 percent capacity.

Reforming the way simple marijuana possession is punished will allow police to focus on serious crime, while ensuring that people caught with small amounts of pot don't get ensnared in a costly and ineffective system.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Panel Suggests 12 Health Conditions; Criticizes Governor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Doctors, nurses and patients on a state panel that recommends whether to expand Illinois' medical marijuana test program on Monday suggested 12 additional health conditions for inclusion, and complained that their suggestions are routinely ignored by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

A doctor who leads the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board said she isn't optimistic about the chances of expanding the program based on previous decisions by the Rauner Administration, reports Celeste Bott at the Chicago Tribune.

Board Chair Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple said the advisory board is moving forward anyway. The board met on Monday in Springfield, and suggested that 10 previously recommended ailments receive approval, as well as two new ones, Type 1 diabetes and panic disorder.

Currently, 39 conditions and diseases can qualify patients to use medicinal cannabis in Illinois. The state's medical marijuana law allows people to suggest new diseses for the program twice a year.

Some at the hearing celebrated the diabetes recommendation, but board member and pediatrician Dr. Nestor Ramirez cautioned them to "wait for what the governor says."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Board Complains About Governor's Rejections

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Members of an Illinois state panel that recommends whether to expand the state's medical marijuana program complained Monday that Gov. Bruce Rauner has routinely ignored their suggestions.

The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board suggested that 10 previously recommended ailments receive approval, as well two new ones: Type 1 diabetes and panic disorder.

As some at a hearing celebrated the diabetes recommendation, board member and pediatrician Dr. Nestor Ramirez cautioned the crowd to "wait for what the governor says."

Rauner's Illinois Department of Public Health has rejected the board's past recommendations. The governor inherited the medical marijuana program, and has been reluctant to broaden access, instead calling for further study of the drug's benefits and risks.

Farah Zala Morales, who works at a medical marijuana dispensary, spoke on behalf of her 12-year-old daughter, Mira, who has Type 1 diabetes. Morales said the drug helped ease her daughter's discomfort and stabilize her blood sugar so she didn't have to inject herself with insulin as often and could maintain good grades and play sports.

Illinois: Bill Introduced To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Rep. Kelly Cassidy on Thursday announced that she is introducing new legislation for 2016 that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in Illinois.

HB 4357 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine. Adults would no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

The proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced by Rep. Cassidy that was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23, as well the amendments proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner when he vetoed the bill and returned it to the legislature on August 14.

“This is a reasonable proposal that is long overdue,” Rep. Cassidy said. “It needs to happen, and I am hopeful that we can make it happen quickly since it’s already such familiar territory for legislators and the governor.”

Members of the Illinois faith community joined Rep. Cassidy at the news conference to voice support for the bill. More than 50 clergy from around the state have signed a Religious Declaration of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, which includes support for civil rather than criminal sanctions for marijuana possession.

Illinois: New Bill Announced To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

IllinoisMarijuana[KTRS]

Rep. Kelly Cassidy will hold a Thursday news conference to announce that she will introduce new legislation for 2016 that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in Illinois.

The news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT in the Blue Room of the James R. Thompson Center. Rep. Cassidy will be joined by Rev. Alexander Sharp of Clergy for a New Drug Policy and other members of the Illinois faith community who believe the state’s current criminal penalties for marijuana possession are causing harm to their communities.

The new proposal will include provisions Gov. Bruce Rauner and a majority of the members of the General Assembly agreed to earlier this year. It will largely mirror legislation previously introduced by Rep. Cassidy that was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23, as well the amendments proposed by the governor when he vetoed the bill and returned it to the legislature on August 14.

WHAT: News conference to announce the introduction of new legislation to remove criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession and replace them a civil fine

WHERE: James R. Thompson Center, Blue Room, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago

WHEN: Thursday, December 10, 11 a.m. CT

WHO: Rep. Kelly Cassidy
Rev. Alexander Sharp, Clergy for a New Drug Policy
Members of the Illinois faith community

Graphic: KTRS

Illinois: Governor's Amendatory Veto Sends Pot Decrim Bill Back To Assembly For Final Approval

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday issued an amendatory veto of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amount of marijuana, sending it back to the General Assembly for final approval.

The General Assembly has 15 days from the next session date to approve the amended version of HB 218, which needs to receive a simple majority vote in the House and then the Senate to officially become law. The original version, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23.

Gov. Rauner’s amended version of HB 218 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a fine of up to $200 with no possibility of jail time, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record. The original version applied to possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana and set the amount of the fine at up to $125.

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500, and possession of more than 2.5 grams and up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 localities in Illinois have adopted measures that reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

Illinois: Medical Marijuana In Limbo As Hostile GOP Governor Takes Office

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois patients who are still waiting for safe access to medical marijuana were once again left disappointed on Monday when outgoing Democratic Governor Pat Quinn not only failed to award licenses to growers and dispensaries before leaving office, but actually tightened the state's already strict medical marijuana laws in one of his final acts in office.

"I was livid," said state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who originally sponsored Illinois' medical marijuana law, reports Kim Bellware at The Huffington Post. "I think the governor made a serious and grievous mistake today."

Patient advocates had hoped Quinn would get the program off the ground by issuing licenses before incoming Republican Governor Bruce Rauner -- who ridiculed the medical marijuana program during his election campaign -- was sworn in on Monday. While medicinal cannabis has been legal for more than a year now in Illinois, the state violated its own deadline at the end of 2014 to issue licenses.

Patients have yet to benefit from the law.

Illinois NORML 'Appalled' That GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Would Delay Medical Marijuana Access

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Illinois NORML) on Tuesday announced they are "appalled" that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner wants to delay the application process for the dispensary and cultivation center licenses of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist, on Tuesday called for transparency in the awarding of the licenses, and he wants the Illinois Legislature to pass a new law regarding transparency and bidding in the application process. Medical marijuana patients have already waited for years for the original bill to pass, according to Illinois NORML, "and have now had to wait months for the agencies to adopt rules and regulations that would guarantee a professional program to help ensure that program will eventually be made permanent."

"My message to Pat Quinn is this: Governor, the jig is up," Rauner said on Tuesday. "Stop this rigged process before it moves forward any further. The application process for medical marijuana should not be held in secret where insiders win and taxpayers lose; it should be open and transparent."

Twenty-two licenses will be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for cultivation centers to grow medical cannabis. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, meanwhile, will issue 60 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.

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