A long awaited day for Illinoisan’s everywhere finally arrived last week as the House and Senate passed a bill legalizing adult use recreational cannabis in the state. While 29 states have cannabis laws in place, Illinois was the first to pass a bill legalizing marijuana through their legislature. Billionaire businessman and IL Governor, J.B. Pritzker, has said he plans to sign the bill.
Progress is On the Horizon in IL
Indeed, there is much to be excited about as this historic bill not only expands legal access to cannabis and decriminalizes home grow, but also will potentially help vacate an estimated 770,000 pot-related convictions 1. With all the well-deserved excitement and buzz around upcoming legalization, many patients are asking themselves if they should opt for the medical cannabis program instead. What are the benefits of having your card now that IL is going adult-use legal? Turns out, there are a 3 important benefits for medical patients that are worth nothing and that this article will explore!
There’s Great News for Medical Patients, Too!
As if the news concerning legalization wasn’t exciting enough, IL legislature hit another home run by passing legislation making the medical-use cannabis program permanent and expanding the list of qualifying conditions 2.
“While many other states have allowed their medical cannabis programs to atrophy once adult use legalization occurred, there are a number of reasons to believe that the recent laws passed in Illinois will encourage the medical program to grow even as legalization comes online in 2020,” said Mark Peysakhovich, a Chicago based-cannabis industry lobbyist, consultant and podcast host.
Here are three main benefits for IL medical cannabis patients who have their cannabis cards:
- Home Grow: You are legally allowed to grow your own medicine (up to 5 plants) at home with your medical cannabis card 3. It is well known that the issue of home growing cannabis for personal use was a contentious one when trying to get this bill passed. Luckily, medical cannabis patients are legally allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants at home for personal use without fear of prosecution! We asked Mark to share his insights about the home grow policy as well: “Only patients registered under the state’s medical program will be allowed to legally grow cannabis at home. Under the state’s five-plant limit, you’re not going to have a huge grow at home. But I’m still hearing from many excited patients who want to know how soon they can legally start growing. Legal home cultivation for patients is a monumental development in cannabis policy,” said Mark Peysakhovich.
- Access to Better Quality Medicine: Cannabis for medical use will be held to higher quality standards than recreational cannabis products 4. Medical patients can expect more stringent rules regarding cultivation and extraction, meaning better quality product for medical patients! “Quality and safeguards of the medical program will always be the gold standard. Not to mention, the new law requires dispensaries to make sure they prioritize inventory for their medical patients. I know a lot of patients get frustrated because dispensary inventory can be spotty and unreliable. You find something that works really well for you and two weeks later it’s not there anymore. And they don’t know when it will be in stock again,” said Peysakhovich. “Under the new system, that shouldn’t happen nearly as often.” Another added benefit of being a medical patient entails. According to Peysakhovich the other good feature related to quality and reliability of medicine for medical patients is related to THC content. “While the adult-use rec program will have THC limits set by a state agency, the THC in medical cannabis will continue to be driven by medical need rather than government limits.”
- Cheaper Medicine: That’s right; IL medical patients will receive their medicine at a lower price! The reasoning here involves the taxation structure for medical versus recreational cannabis 4. We checked back in with Mark Peysakhovich to find out more about how exactly this will go down. “First, with the difference in tax rates, the savings alone will make it well worth registering for the medical program. We’re talking 30 percent or more difference in the cost of the same product between the medical and rec sides of the same dispensary. In the rec program, higher THC content will be taxed at a greater rate. Not so for the medical program,” said Peysakhovich. There are some 65,000 patients in Illinois use cannabis as a vital and necessary medication; it’s great to know they can save a little money by having their cards.
Becoming an IL Medical Cannabis Patient is Now Easier, Cheaper & Faster
Through the years, IL has taken significant measures to remove significant barriers towards becoming a card-carrying patient, such as removing mandatory fingerprinting and criminal background checks. It is now easier, faster and cheaper than ever to get your medical cannabis card in IL and our dedicated team of healthcare professionals at Innovative Care are big advocates for medical cannabis and always here to help facilitate the process.
Exciting Prospects Ahead for Illinois
Illinois has some exciting things to look forward to come the first adult use recreational cannabis sales, expected in January of 2020. But there’s no reason to wait if you are a qualifying patient in the state of Illinois. Our team at Innovative Express Care is cannabis friendly and medically experienced in using it as a powerfully effective medicine. Make your first appointment for a cannabis consultation today at Innovative Express Care.
- News, A. B. C. What the historic marijuana law in Illinois could mean. ABC News Available at: https://abcnews.go.com/US/illinois-poised-enact-historic-recreational-marijuana-bill-clear/story?id=63449800. (Accessed: 3rd June 2019)
- Illinois Passes Legislation Making Medical-Use Cannabis Program Permanent and Expanding Qualifying Conditions. AP NEWS (2019). Available at: https://apnews.com/Business%20Wire/f249dc69d4a5439c83f888ac46960a7f. (Accessed: 3rd June 2019)
- Illinois Senate approves recreational use of marijuana after settling home grow issue. Available at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/illinois-senate-approves-recreational-use-of-marijuana-after-settling-home-grow-issue/. (Accessed: 3rd June 2019)
- 410 ILCS 130/ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. Available at: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3503&ChapterID=35. (Accessed: 3rd June 2019)