Children and adults who suffer from epilepsy could soon find relief in medical marijuana under a bill signed Sunday by Gov. Pat Quinn.
During a ceremony at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Democratic governor signed the law, which adds seizures to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical-grade cannabis.
Quinn called it a “life-saving law” and said medical marijuana could offer those suffering from seizures a “positive experience when it comes to daily living.”
“I think it’s very important that we move forward and extend the opportunity for this important life-saving law to go to all those who need it,” Quinn added.
Under the law, adults who suffer epilepsy will be allowed to smoke medical marijuana. Children will not. Instead, they will be able to take “non-smokable forms of medical marijuana,” according to Quinn’s office.
Some lawmakers were initially skeptical about giving medical marijuana to children, but advocates said many parents have not had success treating their epileptic children with conventional medicine. That won over some Republican votes during last spring’s legislative session, including House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs.
“I have a 14-year-old constituent . . . who lives with epilepsy,” Durkin said. “His parents . . . want to provide their son with as much relief possible. Unfortunately traditional medications and methods have not worked.”
Those hoping to use medical cannabis will still have to wait because it won’t be available until at least early 2015.
Last week, a state committee that oversees rule-making for Illinois’ nascent medical marijuana efforts gave a final affirmative nod, allowing dispensers and distributors to begin their work.
Applications for those seeking to use, grow or sell medical marijuana will likely be available in August, state officials have said.