Medical marijuana law in Illinois addressed by Huyck, PAPA course to follow

Medical marijuana, legalized in Illinois through a four-year pilot program, is a hot topic affecting many according to Public Administration and Policy Analysis (PAPA) professor Nancy Huyck.

PAPA professor Nancy Huyck will teach a course on legalized medical marijuana in Illinois. Photo courtesy of Huyck

She will teach a special topics course on marijuana policy as a graduate elective within the PAPA program this summer.

In every state bordering Illinois, medical marijuana is illegal.

“Illinois is leading the front in the Midwest,” Huyck said. “From a public policy perspective this is interesting–to see how the policy and pilot program will be fully operationalized and serve the people of Illinois.”

Federally, marijuana remains classified as an illegal and controlled substance. Twenty-three states have now legalized the use of medical marijuana.

In 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. The law authorized a pilot program which began in January 2014, requiring individuals to apply for a patient ID card to purchase medical marijuana from state approved and regulated dispensaries. One year later, the state is deciding where to grow and dispense marijuana to service these patients.

According to Huyck, the guidelines and regulations surrounding obtaining such permissions, for patients seeking to buy and businesses seeking to sell medical marijuana, are some of the strictest in the nation.

Huyck said many people either strongly favor or strongly oppose the use of medical marijuana which can alleviate pain and nausea, increase appetites in cancer patients, for instance.

“Terminally or chronically ill patients are going to have more options of how they choose to treat themselves and what drugs they take,” she said.

The American Medical Association, according to Huyck, has warned of the unknown effects of potential long term use of medical marijuana that has not been adequately studied or explored such as lung cancer or brain damage.

Huyck said it is an important policy area to explore because the policy is so fragmented.

“From a policy perspective, the federal Food and Drug Administration traditionally verifies medications are safe for citizen consumption,” Huyck said. “The Food and Drug Administration does not play a role in the regulation of medical marijuana.”

With 23 states legalizing medical marijuana Huyck said many patients are left without the option of the program.

“It will be interesting to see how these policies either streamline or remain vastly different. It can take the government a while to roll out programs,” Huyck said. “It’s one thing to pass a policy but it’s another thing for agencies to work together in implementing and delivering a program set forth by policy.”

A couple months ago, Huyck said a business in Ginger Creek applied for a license to dispense medical marijuana that was near to, but not within 1,000 feet of Edwardsville High School, a rule set forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

When the local public became aware of the business proposition, she said many in the surrounding community did not want it to reside there and petitioned the proposal in the local media.

“There’s a real thick line between citizens that want these types of services available within their community and the people that don’t,” Huyck said.

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