With Governor Pat Quinn’s signature Thursday, Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. The Illinois Senate approved the medical cannabis initiative last month.

The Illinois medical marijuana law is considered one of the strictest in the nation. The law considers 42 conditions to be eligible for treatment with cannabis – including cancer, MS, and HIV/AIDS.

While Governor Quinn signed the law Thursday, it will not officially go into effect until January 1, 2014. However, it is likely to take even longer before the program is operational, meaning those seeking medical cannabis to treat a qualifying illness could be in for a lengthy wait.

The law will begin as a four-year trial program during which 60 state-licensed dispensaries will be established. Dispensary employees will undergo background checks and patients must adhere to strict dosage limits.

Qualified patients will be allowed no more than 2.5 ounces of medical pot every two weeks. Medical marijuana cards indicating how much pot has been purchased will be used to “prevent stockpiling.” Additionally, patients will not be allowed to grow their own medicine.

Governor Quinn’s signature comes just a week after Governor Maggie Hassan signed New Hampshire’s medical pot bill into law.

20 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana as medicine.

More @ www.chicagotribune.com & www.huffingtonpost.com