As mentioned in Part 1 of this series of articles, we address the same basic breakdown to Illinois’ medical cannabis program as the Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) report, including Program Functionality, Patient Rights, Access to Medicine, Affordability, and more. Though we are not scoring and grading the categories as the ASA did, we instead are offering direct feedback from registered Illinois medical patients.
In Part 2 of this series, we highlight Patient Rights & Civil Protection, as well as Health And Social Equity categories. We also added more details to a Customer Returns category. The ASA report scored Illinois’ Patient Rights and Civil Protection 90/100. The scored categories included Arrest Protections, Affirmative Defense, Parental Rights Protections, Employment Protections, DUID Protections, and Explicit Privacy Standards. Illinois recorded perfect score in all categories but one. The Prairie State scored 10/20 on Parental Rights Protections.
Patient Rights & Civil Protection
Parental Rights Protections has been a category we have received a few comments and complaints about from medical patients. Even though, the Illinois Cannabis and Tax Act includes a section titled “Discrimination prohibited,” stating that the lawful use of marijuana under the act cannot be the “sole or primary basis or supporting basis” for limiting a patient’s rights as a parent or right to adopt or become a guardian of a child, the parenting landscape when dealing with medical cannabis use can be nuanced and more complicated to navigate than expected. Despite the legalization of cannabis in Illinois, the medical use of cannabis can be a factor that affects a patient’s divorce and decisions about child custody.
Health And Social Equity
The ASA report for the first time included a Health And Social Equity category (with a 75/100 score) that comprised of State Program Protections, Housing Protections, Access in Underserved Areas, List of Qualifying Conditions is Exhaustive or All Inclusive, Allows Patients to Medicate Where They Choose, Organ Transplants, and Ownership or Employment Restrictions. ASA gave perfect scores to Illinois for State Program Protections, List of Qualifying Conditions is Exhaustive or All Inclusive, Organ Transplants, and Ownership or Employment Restrictions. Deducted points were given to Housing Protections, Access for Minors, Access in Underserved Areas, and Allows Patients to Medicate Where They Choose.
Out of these categories, we hear from patients mostly concerned about the lack of designated area to medicate in public and private. As outlined in the Smokefree Illinois Act, smoking in public is not allowed. The Illinois Cannabis and Tax Act defines ‘public place’ as “any place where a person could reasonably be expected to be observed by others. ‘Public place’ includes all parts of buildings owned in whole or in part, or leased, by the State or a unit of local government. ‘Public place’ includes all areas in a park, recreation area, wildlife area, or playground owned in whole or in part, leased, or managed by the State or a unit of local government. ‘Public place’ does not include a private residence unless the private residence is used to provide licensed child care, foster care, or other similar social service care on the premises.”
Bars and restaurants adjusted by creating outdoor designated areas for tobacco smokers. Patients believe they should have the same option as tobacco smokers: an indoor or outdoor designated smoking area for private consumption.
Patients also have shown confusion about smoking at home. The law’s ambiguous wording confuses even the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP). Patients are allowed to smoke in their homes and on back porches (if they own the domicile or the owner approves), but jurisdictions have been interpreting the legalities of smoking on front porches differently. The ILACP states on its website, “We were disappointed not to get clarity on this in the trailer bill.” The Senate Democrats’ legal staff believes the language in the law is clear and that smoking on front porches is not prohibited. In addition, landlords can prohibit cannabis use on their property (more on that in Part 3 of this series).
Patients also have indicated issues with a subcategory in the Consumer Protection and Product Safety part of the report called “Complaints, Adverse Event Reporting and Recall Protocol.” Returns are difficult for any retail store, let alone dispensaries with a ton of regulations bearing down on them, but the problem seems to stem from the absence of any universal rules or protocols for cannabis brands, cultivators, retail stores, and customers to follow when it comes to returning products to dispensaries.
According to Illinois officials, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is working on drafting new rules for customer returns. No date has been set for a final draft. In the meantime, medical patients have nowhere to go to solve any real issue with returning a product. We suggest that each patient take a video of the product as you open it in the dispensary parking lot. If something is wrong with the product, an early return usually helps. As a reminder, especially with an open seal container, the cannabis product by law has to be “reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.”
For the rest of the articles in the series find the links below:
For more Illinois cannabis industry news, visit here.
For Medical Patient Homegrown Reviews, visit here.
To learn about cannabis-friendly events in Illinois, visit here.