Illinois governor signs medical marijuana bill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Illinois governor signs medical marijuana bill

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois has become the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. 

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law Thursday at a new University of Chicago medical facility. 

Illinois' law takes effect Jan. 1, but it'll take several months before medical marijuana will be available for purchase. The measure outlines a four-year pilot program for patients suffering from more than 30 serious illnesses or diseases. 

Quinn says he's heard compelling stories from seriously ill patients, including veterans, and says medical marijuana will provide many people relief. 

He also says Illinois' new law has some of the toughest standards in the country, including background checks for all staff at state-run dispensaries and 24-hour surveillance at growing centers. 

Nineteen other states and Washington, D.C. allow medical marijuana. 

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation today that will Illinois the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. 

His remarks Thursday at the University of Chicago will focus on providing relief to the seriously ill, including veterans. 

The Chicago Democrat will also tout Illinois' strict standards, which experts say are among the nation's toughest. 

The measure outlines a four-year pilot program that requires patients and caregivers to undergo background checks and sets provisions for state-regulated dispensaries. The proposal says patients can be allowed up to 2.5 ounces at a time. 

Jim Champion is a veteran with multiple sclerosis. He'll be one of the speakers at the event. 

Currently 19 other states and Washington, D.C. allow medical marijuana. 

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