Illinois' legalization of marijuana for medical purposes will boil down to conversations between a physician and a patient, a Quad-City doctor predicted Thursday.
Dr. Paul McLoone, the chief medical officer at UnityPoint Health Trinity, cited the example of a patient who is ending treatments at the Trinity Cancer Center in Moline and transitioning to home-based care.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis” pilot program into law Thursday. The legislation takes effect Jan. 1 and creates a four-year pilot program in which certain patients who have obtained a note from their doctor and been diagnosed with at least one of three dozen medical conditions could use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
The bill also allows for 60 state-regulated dispensaries where patients could buy the marijuana and 22 cultivation centers — one in each Illinois State Police district — where cannabis plants can be grown legally. In the Quad-City region, state police district headquarters are in East Moline and Sterling.
Trinity officials have not yet formed policies on the use of medical marijuana, but McLoone said discussions will be forthcoming. Specifically, such use of marijuana is not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and that means it will not be stocked in Trinity’s pharmacies.
Discussion among physicians also will be the case at Genesis Health System, spokesman Ken Croken said.
"The legality of medical marijuana in Illinois will lead to a review among medical staff. Genesis physicians will use their medical judgment to consider the patient, the patient's condition, and the appropriateness and possible benefits of a medical marijuana prescription," he said in a prepared statement.
The use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. However, marijuana is legalized in 20 states to alleviate pain and nausea. Qualifying conditions in Illinois range from cancer and glaucoma to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.
While some Illinois communities are beginning to plan for where the dispensaries will be located, there is no apparent rush to do so in the Quad-Cities.
“There is no discussion on this at our end at all,” said Shawn Christ, the land development manager in Moline, adding that he is not aware of any conversations in the city offices whatsoever.
Area pharmacies are not rushing to make marijuana available to qualified customers, either. For example, Emily Hartwig, a spokeswoman for Walgreens, based in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, said the company has no plans to stock the product in its many stores.
In 2010, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended that state legislators reclassify marijuana and set up a system to allow the drug to be used for therapeutic purposes.
Medical marijuana legislation was proposed during the 2013 session of the Iowa Legislature, but it survived for less than a month. The legislation was proposed by Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, and contained some of the same safeguards in the Illinois law.