The Illinois House of Representatives may soon vote on SB 336, which would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Last month, the Senate passed the measure by a wide margin, but its future in the House is less certain.
While opioids can be highly addictive and dangerous, many seriously ill patients across the country are opting for a safer alternative. Medical cannabis has emerged as an effective option for hundreds of thousands of patients around the U.S. Yet, Illinois’ medical cannabis law does not include pain as a qualifying condition. It’s past time to allow patients to use cannabis instead of opiate-based medications.
Another bill which would also provide patients welcome relief passed both chambers and is now on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. If signed, HB 4870 would allow students who are registered patients to access medical cannabis at school under certain circumstances. While limited, it is an important improvement to ensure patients do not have to choose between their health and their education. If you are an Illinois resident, call Gov. Rauner at (217) 782-0244 and ask him to sign this important bill into law.
After 10 years of hard work, the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program takes effect today. This is an important milestone for seriously ill patients and a testament to the effort of countless people!
Over the next four months, the three regulatory agencies overseeing the program will hold public hearings and establish rules and forms. The timing has not been established yet, but official statements by at least one agency have indicated that cultivation applications may be accepted in the fall. Importantly, patients are not protected by the law until they have registered in the state registry, which will not be open until this spring at the earliest.
In the meantime, the state has established a central website, which will contain updates and information on the state’s progress.
An overview of the program is available here, and a two-page document specifically designed for patients to share with their physicians is also available. During the year, MPP will encourage the health department to add PTSD and debilitating pain to the list of qualifying conditions. If you have been diagnosed with either and would like to help, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your zip code.
Congratulations and happy new year, Illinois.