- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - The road to legal medical marijuana in Illinois began more than a decade ago, when proponents first began pushing legislation in Springfield. After many defeats, a law establishing a pilot program was approved in 2013.

Here are key dates since the law was passed:

Aug. 1, 2013: Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signs the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, making Illinois the 21st state allowing marijuana for medical use. The law authorizes a four-year pilot program that expires at the end of 2017.

July 15, 2014: A legislative committee approves the program’s rules for patients, growers and retailers. Public comments from patients, entrepreneurs and city officials helped shape the rules.

Jan. 1, 2015: A law takes effect expanding the pilot program to allow children to be prescribed non-smokable forms of marijuana.

Jan. 12, 2015: Quinn leaves office without awarding marijuana business permits, leaving the decision to his Republican successor, Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Feb. 2, 2015: Rauner awards permits to cultivation centers and dispensaries after finding flaws with Quinn’s process. Lawsuits follow from left-out investors, but the industry begins to get off the ground.

July 2015: The first cultivation centers are authorized to start growing cannabis.

Oct. 9, 2015: Illinois starts mailing letters to patients telling them to choose a dispensary. Of 70 marijuana businesses initially approved by Rauner, only 12 cultivation centers and four dispensaries are ready to operate.

Oct. 29, 2015: State officials say retail sales of medical marijuana are expected to start within two weeks and ID cards are being mailed to approved patients.

Nov. 9, 2015: First medical marijuana sales begin under the pilot program with 3,300 registered patients. A trade group says five dispensaries are ready to sell marijuana on opening day.

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