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Do you know the new laws?

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PRINCETON — Illinois residents will need to get up to speed on some new laws, including some traffic-related laws and the legalization of medical marijuana.

On Aug. 1, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, resulting in Illinois becoming the 21st state in the country to legalize medical marijuana.

“This new law will provide that relief and help eligible patients ease their suffering, while making sure Illinois has the nation’s strictest safeguards to prevent abuse,” Quinn said.

The new law enacts strict restrictions on the cultivation centers to ensure professional licensing, 24-hour surveillance and inventory control, Quinn said. There will be 22 cultivation centers, which is one for each State Police District. Each cultivation center must comply with local zoning laws and be located at least 2,500 feet from day care centers and schools, the governor said.

Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said he does not view the use of medical marijuana as the big problem which some of society may perceive it to be. He thinks medical marijuana can be a good thing to give some people a relief from their suffering.

As far as any potential problems for law enforcement, Thompson said there could be some enforcement issues as far as drivers, since the indications of cannabis/marijuana use aren’t the same as with alcohol use. Cannabis use is determined by blood or urine tests, which would involve a medical facility, he said.

As far as any potential increased break-ins of homes where medical marijuana might be used, the sheriff said he does not see that as a problem. People who use cannabis are not typically problematic or violent, he said.

In another new law, the governor has signed a law, dubbed “Patricia’s Law,” which would prohibit judges from granting supervision to anyone charged in a fatal accident if the person has a prior conviction or was previously on court supervision for another serious traffic violation.

Thompson said he thinks this is a good and appropriate law. When the court starts giving out supervisions, people aren’t serving the time to which they were sentenced, and that’s a problem, he said.

In early August, the governor also signed a law requiring anyone ages 18 to 21 who did not take a driver’s education course in high school to complete an adult driver’s education course before he or she could receive a driver’s license.

Thompson said he has mixed emotions about this new law. His concern is that people may not be able to afford to take the class. A prime example of that person could be someone who has dropped out of high school or someone who is working a minimum wage job. If that person can demonstrate his driving ability to the driver’s license facility, then that is something to consider.

But on the other hand, the driver’s education course does give the person a much broader educational background on various laws, Thompson said. The new law will also open up new jobs as more people are trained and hired to teach those classes, he said.

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