Even before Gov. Pat Quinn put ink to paper Thursday on a bill that legalizes medical marijuana in Illinois, a new clinic ready to facilitate the legislation waited in the wings.
Good Intentions, the self-proclaimed first medical marijuana clinic in Illinois, plans to open in Chicago on Aug. 7 and will offer physician evaluations and begin taking calls immediately from patients with questions about the state's certification process.
"I anticipate that the State of Illinois will be using the next few months to sort out regulations and implementation of the program before the new law takes effect in January,” Good Intentions president Tammy Jacobi said. "In the meantime, we encourage patients to contact us and learn more about how to become an Illinois medical marijuana patient."
The state has strict laws about who can participate in the program.
Only terminally ill patients suffering from one of 33 listed illnesses, including cancer and HIV, are eligible, and even then a patient can be prescribed no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks from a doctor with a previous history of treating the patient.
Medical marijuana also can only be purchased from one of 60 state-regulated dispensing centers that would be under 24-hour surveillance, and employees at the centers must undergo criminal background checks.
Even after Quinn signed the legislation at the University of Chicago, the bill won't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014.
Jacobi says Good Intentions, which opened a clinic in Michigan where medical marijuana is already legal, will be ready for that deadline and wants patients to be ready too.
“We know through our experience in Michigan that medical marijuana provides patients with new hope, better quality of life and much needed relief from the effects of many diseases," she said. "Illinois is now the 20th state to enable seriously ill residents access to this medicine."
Good Intentions will be managed in conjunction with the medical practice of Big Rapids Surgery of Illinois, Jacobi said. The clinic will keep daily hours at 1723 N. Ashland Ave., and patients seeking information about the Compassionate Use Act can call 312-859-6754.