Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly recently approved major changes to state rules for medical marijuana. Before the changes become effective, however, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner must sign each bill into law. In the meantime, the following sections will examine Illinois rules for medical marijuana and the proposed changes in each bill.
Medical Marijuana in Illinois
In terms of background, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (the Act) creates the rules and regulations for medical marijuana in Illinois. Illinois recognizes the usefulness of medical marijuana as a treatment for certain serious health conditions. Consequently, the Act allows patients with specific debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana in their treatment plan.
Under the Act, patients can apply for a registry identification card with a doctor’s recommendation. The Act also limits the number of debilitating conditions eligible for medical marijuana as a treatment. The full list features approximately 40 conditions, including but not limited to cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Replacing Opioid Prescriptions with Medical Marijuana
In order to combat the rising opioid epidemic, Senate Bill 336 proposes to use medical marijuana instead. Specifically, this bill would amend the list of debilitating conditions eligible for medical marijuana as a treatment. In any circumstance in which a doctor could legally prescribe an opioid, that doctor may prescribe medical marijuana instead. Furthermore, this bill requires the Department of Public Health to expedite the approval process for any patient who seeks to replace an opioid prescription with medical marijuana.
After the third reading, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 336 on April 26, 2018. The Illinois House also passed after the third reading on May 31, 2018. At this point, the Governor must approve Senate Bill 336 and sign it into law.
Consumption of Medical Marijuana on School Grounds
Also referred to as “Ashley’s Law,” House Bill 4870 proposes to enable qualifying patients to use medical marijuana on school grounds. This bill prevents patients from:
- Causing a disruption at school while using medical marijuana; or
- Exposing other students to medical marijuana at school.
In other words, patients are not allowed to smoke medical marijuana at school. Such conduct would expose other students to medical marijuana. But so long as the patient does not cause a disruption, this bill would allow consumption of medical marijuana on school grounds.
After the third reading, the Illinois House passed House Bill 4870 on April 18, 2018. The Illinois Senate also passed after the third reading on May 17, 2018. Then House Bill 4870 went to the Governor for approval on June 15, 2018.
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(image courtesy of Esteban Lopez)