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updated: 7/20/2014 6:53 PM

Quinn OKs cannabis use for kids with epilepsy

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Associated Press

Minors with epilepsy would be allowed to use medical marijuana under a measure Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Sunday.

The measure adds seizures to the list of treatable conditions in the state's medical cannabis program and allows children with seizures from epilepsy to consume oil from the marijuana plant with a parent's consent. It was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Iris Martinez of Chicago and Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, and passed the legislature in the spring.

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The original medical marijuana law had allowed only Illinois residents 18 years and older to use the drug in a four-year pilot program.

"This new law will help alleviate the suffering of many adults and children across the state," Quinn said in a statement. "Epilepsy is a debilitating condition, and this much needed relief will help to reduce some of its symptoms for those who endure seizures."

Parents of children with epilepsy have said consuming the oil reduces seizures and doesn't make children feel high. Opponents disagree with further legalizing the drug.

The legislation, which takes effect in January, had been pushed by families in Illinois with children that experience hundreds of seizures a day, said Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago President and CEO Kurt Florian.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will write regulations for the treatment of children with cannabis.

Adult patients, meanwhile, will be able to apply for the required medical cannabis identification cards starting in September. The first products may be sold sometime next year if all goes smoothly, state officials have said.

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