Are you at least 21 years of age or hold a valid medical marijuana card?

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Opioid Alternative Cannabis Program in Illinois

On August 28, 2018, Illinois law 100-1114, the Alternative to Opioids Act of 2018 was signed. The act allows a treating physician to refer a medical patient to the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program and be treated with medical cannabis in place of opioids.

What Does the Opioid Alternative Program Mean for Medical Patients?

Your doctor will be able to treat your qualifying medical conditions with cannabis, instead of prescribing highly addictive opioids. That means you can come to a medical cannabis dispensary, such as EarthMed’s Addison Location, to obtain medical cannabis.

What are the new provisions to the Alternative to Opioids Act in Illinois?

  • Medical cannabis patient applicants must be 21 years or older.
  • Applicants for the Opioid Alternative Cannabis Program must reside in Illinois. 
  • Patients and caregivers no longer need fingerprints to obtain their Medical Marijuana Card.
  • Once patients hold a medical marijuana card, medical patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis from a dispensary within a 14-day period.
  • Businesses cannot charge fees to help patients fill out their medical cannabis registration forms.
  • Certifying physicians must have a relationship with the medical patient at the physician's office, hospital, or other healthcare facilities.
  • Medical patients who apply to the Opioid Alternative Cannabis Program will incur a $10 fee every 90 days when physicians renew the patient’s registration, allowing patients to use medical cannabis to treat their qualifying medical conditions. 
  • New qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana cardholders were added in Illinois. 
  • With the new provisions to the Illinois Opioid Alternative Pilot Program, Advance Practice Nurses (APN), Physicians Assistants (PA), and Nurse Practitioners (NP), are added to the list of  licensed professionals who can allow medical cannabis to be administered to patients instead of opioids for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP) and the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP). 
  • Since September 30, 2019, veterans prescribed with opioids and receiving medical services at VA facilities can register for the Opioid Alternative Program in Illinois. 
  • On June 25, 2019, the Public Act 101-0027, the Cannabis Regulations & Tax Act Program permits those medical cannabis card holders to grow up to five cannabis plants that they can use for their qualifying medical conditions.  
  • While Ashley’s Law has been effective in Illinois since August 1, 2018, it has been revised to say that school nurses in Illinois are able to provide medical marijuana to a student who is registered as a minor medical cannabis patient. 

When can I participate in the Opioid Alternative Program?

Currently, the Illinois Department of Public Health is updating the system for Medical Cannabis Registrations to an entirely new system, Entellitrak, which is set to be ready on June 22, 2021. When the system is live, both current and new medical cannabis patients will be able to use the new system to submit applications to the medical cannabis registry.  The benefits of the newly updated Illinois medical cannabis registry include that patients are able to check their account 24/7, update demographic information, print their paper registry cards, make payments, and communicate through email once the new system launches. You can also keep track of the official updates from the Illinois Department of Health.
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