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Marijuana Law waits on Governor

The last week in July finds Governor Pat Quinn with a bill on his desk he says he will either sign or veto in a week. The bill would authorize a four-year pilot program for medical marijuana in Illinois. It would allow treatment of 40 different conditions with marijuana.

If the bill does become law, adults who have one of debilitating medical conditions could legally buy and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana for treatment of the condition and buy more every two weeks.

Both advocates and entrepreneurs are waiting with baited breath to see what the governor will do. Legal cannabis for medical purposes wouldn’t take effect until January of next year, but many smell an opportunity, even if they don’t yet smell marijuana smoke. In other states, legalization has come with small businesses opening up to service the new market, and the economic benefits are often touted by advocates as a side benefit.

Government at the city and county levels are also watching, with some preemptively either planning to support medical marijuana or keep it outside of their borders.

A typical comment comes from the Chicago Tribune, who talked to the Village Manger of Huntley. "At this point, the village doesn't have any interest in the proposal," Dave Johnson said. "There are no regulations in place as we sit here to accommodate the use. ... The likelihood of it ending up here - there may be better spots ( elsewhere )."

Having a law in place is just one step in a long, and sometimes arduous process. Other states have found great difficulties in turning a law on paper into something workable on the ground. In most states, communities have a direct impact on what emerges – either supporting dispensaries and clinics or restricting them through zoning regulations and ordinances.

There’s one sure bet. No matter what the governor does, some will cry foul and others will be satisfied. For now, it’s a game of wait and see.

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