Illinois governor signs opioid alternative bill, making huge improvements to medical cannabis program
Sweeping changes include medical cannabis access for opioid patients, streamlined process, and others
Illinois’s medical cannabis program took a major step forward today as Gov. Bruce Rauner signed bill SB 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act, into law.
This historic change makes several key improvements:
• Opioid patients now qualify. Patients who are — or could be — prescribed opioid drugs will be able to register to obtain medical cannabis as an alternative.
• Shorter wait times. Patients will get provisional authorization to access medical cannabis as soon as their paperwork is submitted for registration — saving weeks of wait time.
• No more fingerprint requirement! Patients and caregivers will no longer be required to submit fingerprints to register for the program, and those with felony convictions in their past will no longer be denied access to the program.
Many thanks go to bill sponsors Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and the many medical cannabis patients and supporters who worked to pass this major improvement to state law. The full text of the measure is here.
In other news, if you are in the neighborhood, the public is invited to tonight’s town hall on cannabis legalization for adults in La Grange, Illinois.
When: Tuesday, August 28 7:00 p.m.
Where: La Grange Village Hall Auditorium, 53 S. La Grange Road, La Grange, Illinois
Who: Bill sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Jim Durkin, and several other panelists
Another big win for medical cannabis patients today — please spread the word! And if you can, come to tonight’s town hall and support a sensible legalization law in Illinois!
The Illinois General Assembly passed the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Act yesterday during a whirlwind last day of its regular legislative session. If signed into law, SB 336 would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the medical cannabis program. It also dramatically improves current law by streamlining wait times and removing fingerprint requirements for patients.
This bill would provide welcome relief to thousands who need a safer alternative to harmful opioid drugs. For a summary written by bill supporters — including key changes to background checks and shortened approval process — click here. The final bill draft language is here.
A huge shout-out goes to the medical cannabis community, the warriors who worked so hard to make it happen, and primary bill sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and co-sponsors for their leadership and support. Thousands of lives could improve as a result.
But without the governor’s signature, it won’t become a reality. Gov. Rauner has 60 days from the day he receives it to sign or veto the measure, and he needs to hear from you. If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support for the measure with the governor’s office.
An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.
Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.
Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.
If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.
Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.
Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.
This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.
If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.