It was a big week in the medical cannabis community. Governor JB Pritzker signed changes to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program on August 12, 2019, making the once medical pilot program now permanent in Illinois. He also approved several new debilitating medical conditions, making cannabis an option for thousands of residents who did not previously qualify for their medical cannabis card. Following is a summary of the recent improvements and changes.
12 New Conditions
Twelve new medical conditions were added to the Medical Cannabis Patient Program (MCPP). Among them, chronic pain, which is broad enough to open the door to thousands of new patients on its own. Autism was also added, along with Irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis, migraines and more. The expansion of these conditions marks an important step forward, as it grants physicians more freedom to make decisions as to when cannabis may be appropriate for symptom relief and disease management. Advance Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants can now certify patients as well. For a full list of qualifying conditions, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health.
21 or None
To align the MCPP with the state’s Tobacco 21 program, patients must now be 21 years of age or older in order to purchase smokable cannabis products. This has been extremely upsetting to many patients. There are ongoing efforts to change this law.
IDPH is creating a pathway to make cannabis accessible to veterans. Beginning this fall, veterans with a current opioid prescription who are being treated at a VA medical facility will be eligible to register for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP).
- Patients will soon be able to make immediate changes to their dispensary of choice, allowing them to purchase at any dispensary at any time, rather than requiring a home base that takes time to change. (TBD implementation date)
- Up to three caregivers can be listed for MCPP patients (TBD implementation date)
- MCPP patients will be able to grow up to five cannabis plants for personal consumption (January 2020)
If you’ve considered cannabis to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition, don’t wait and purchase recreationally in 2020. Medical cannabis cardholders will have access to more products and will pay less than recreational users. Furthermore, dispensaries will have a different line to get their medications (making it much quicker with more knowledgeable bud-tenders). Cannabis has allowed countless patients to lower, or even eliminate, the use of prescription opioid medications, and certification is now easier and faster than ever before.
Innovative Wellness has certified thousands of patients. We offer cannabis certification and consulting services with an MD who is experienced in using cannabis alongside traditional medical treatments for disease management and symptom control. We take insurance!