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New laws on health issues

Medical marijuana, tanning beds for teens and more

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 4:15 p.m. CST

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law several pieces of legislation geared to impact the health and well-being of Illinois residents in a positive way.

Probably the most-publicized health-related new law deals with the use of medical marijuana. The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, but probably won’t be ready for implementation for several more months.

On Aug. 1, Quinn signed the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” into law, making Illinois the 20th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. The new law covers a list of 33 defined medical conditions, including cancer, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

On Monday, Perry Memorial Hospital President/CEO Rex Conger said the individual physician would make the decision whether a patient’s treatment should include the use of medical marijuana. However, smoking medical marijuana on hospital property would not be allowed because there is already a state law prohibiting any smoking on hospital property, which would trump the medical marijuana law, Conger said.

Further looking into the new law, Conger said the Illinois Hospital Association has released information on the four-year pilot program. Though smoking is not allowed on any hospital or health care facility under the Smoke Free Illinois Act, hospitals can adopt their policies to allow, restrict or prohibit the use of medical use of cannabis-infused products.

The Department of Public Health, Department of Agriculture and Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will develop the processes and rules to implement the new law, which could take several months. There is a lot of work that needs to be completed before the new law can be implemented, Conger said.

In other new health-related legislation, the list of impairments that qualify a person as disabled has been expanded to include mobility limitation resulting from cancer or its treatment. Also, the custodian of another person can now petition the court to institutionalize the person and allow police officers to take the person directly to the institution, instead of a hospital. Also, health care providers in health care facilities are now required by law to wear an identification badge.

In education/health legislation, public school teacher and counselor training has been extended to include signs of mental illness. Another new law states any public school sex-education course offered to sixth- through 12th-grade students must cover both abstinence and contraception.

Another new law prohibits the use of indoor tanning beds by young people under the age of 18 years of age. The current law bans those under age 14 from UV tanning, but allows minors between 14 and 17 to tan with a parent’s permission.

In August, when he signed the tanning bill into law, Quinn said the goal of the new tanning law is to spare young people and their families from the consequences of serious and preventable health problems that could be caused by tanning at a young age.

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