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By Larry Yellen, FOX 32 News Legal Analyst – bio | email

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) –

Consultants, industry leaders, and potential investors gathered downtown Saturday to discuss a fledgling new industry in Illinois: medical marijuana.

A new law, taking effect January 1, 2014, establishes a four year trial program in Illinois. It allows 22 areas for growing marijuana, and 60 dispensaries. Thus, Saturday’s Cannabusiness Symposium, and its keynote speaker, Steve DeAngelo, from California.

“The biggest issue that you’re going to face is the conflict between federal law and state law. Even though medical cannabis is legal under Illinois laws now, cultivating and distributing it is completely illegal under federal law,” said DeAngelo of the Harborside Health Center.

DeAngelo also says that the feds typically go easier on states with tight regulations, and Illinois will be heavily regulated.

Ed Rodriguez, who’s thinking of getting into some facet of the marijuana business, says based on what he heard today, it won’t be easy.

“It’s going to be a lot of networking. A lot of networking. You’re not going to be able to come into this on your own,” said Rodriguez.

Chris Bochenski is a Chicagoan who’s pushing software to track marijuana manufacturing and sales.

In response to the question on Illinois’ future looking bright, Bochenski added, “Absolutely. The politicians and lobbyists have done their jobs, and now it’s time for industry to do theirs.”

Critics say that legalizing medical marijuana creates a huge potential for abuse, and possible damage to the brain. Symposium participants disagreed.

“You know there’s a lot of people who sort of make jokes about cannabis being used for everything from hangnails to skin irritation, but the fact of the matter is that cannabis is effective for a very wide range of medical conditions,” said DeAngelo.

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