Illinois’ Medical Marijuana program became effective January 1, 2014, and, as of March 2016, there were about 5,000 patients who qualified for the program. These users, specifically those who are parents or students, may be in for a surprise when they learn that they are at risk for scrutiny from Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), limited in their implementation as well as at risk from potential employers simply for taking their legally prescribed medicine.
For parents, the act outlines that registered patients cannot knowingly use medical marijuana in close proximity to children. The problem is that the act does not define what close means. In cases where the cannabis is not smoked (i.e. as an edible), does this rule even apply? The parent is expected to use common sense, but without a definition it is up to interpretation. Ultimately the ambiguity can potentially lead to negative potential implications in a custody battle or other issue where the DCFS becomes involved.
In addition, without any guidelines for schools, medical marijuana can be prohibited on campus, therefore impacting the ability of children and young adults in college who use it for pain to reap any benefit. In addition, employers are still allowed to implement drug testing and can prohibit the use of medical marijuana in their facilities, just like schools can. No other prescription pain medications have restrictions on how or when or where they can be taken.
This double standard may be why the number of registered qualified patients is so small, and may also be why the program is slow to take off. In two years, the legislature will be discussing renewing the act, and at that time it is critical that they address the issues of parental proximity as well as what kinds of restrictions can be implemented. This clarity will provide guidelines for schools and employers hopefully eliminating the ambiguity that exists.
The attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC can help you if you have any questions concerning marijuana laws in Chicago, or other cities in Illinois. Contact us at (312) 644-0444.