Becoming a patient in Illinois

Summary:

In 2013, The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (HB 1) was enacted to create a temporary statewide distribution program for qualifying patients. HB 1 specifies 35 qualifying conditions but excludes chronic pain, the leading indication for use of medical cannabis. HB 1 allows patients to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks from one of the 60 dispensing organizations that will be supplied by the 22 cultivation centers. Cultivation by patients or their caregivers is prohibited. Minors, public safety officials, school bus and commercial drivers, police and correctional officers, firefighters, and anyone convicted of a drug-related felony are not eligible for the program. The original law contained a sunset clause that means the legislature will have to extend it or pass a new law by December 31, 2017; however, an amendment was passed in May 2016 to extend the sunset date to July 1, 2020.

What's Legal:

The law allows patients and their designated caregivers to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. Patients or their designated caregivers can only acquire medical marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary. 

Eligible Conditions:

The following debilitating medical conditions were included in HB1:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive Status For Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer's Disease
  • Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Severe Fibromyalgia
  • Spinal Cord Disease
  • Including but not Limited to Arachnoiditis
  • Tarlov Cysts
  • Hydromyelia
  • Syringomyelia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation and Syringomelia
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Myoclonus
  • Dystonia
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Rsd (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I)
  • Causalgia
  • Crps (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type Ii)
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome
  • Residual Limb Pain
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy)
  • PTSD
  • terminal illness (less than 6 months to live)
  • or the treatment of these conditions; or any other debilitating medical condition that is added pursuant to statute or by the Department of Public Health by rulemaking

Application Process

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program will begin to accept patient applications through an initially staggered application window. Persons whose last name starts with A through L may apply between September 2 and October 31, 2014. Persons whose last name starts with M through Z may apply between November 1 and December 31, 2014. There will no longer be any restrictions on who can apply based on last name after January 1, 2015, when any eligible qualifying patient may submit an application. Patient application fees are $100, or $50 for patients receiving SSI or SSDI benefits. The Department may take up to 30 days to process a patient's application. 

Patients and caregivers must submit fingerprints from a certified vendor. A list of approved vendors can be found here: https://www.idfpr.com/licenselookup/fingerprintlist.asp.

The Illinois program has special rules for military veterans who are unable to obtain a medical cannabis recommendation from a non-VA physician. In addition to having a state-recognized qualifying condition and meeting the residency requirement, the VA-patient must provide a copy of his or her U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official hospital medical records requested on VA form 10-5345, then provide a copy of his or her DD214 or equivalent certified document indicating character and dates of service. Then, the veteran-applicant must submit copies of their finger prints and the accompanying fees.

Doctor

Any Illinois doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy licensed under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 to practice medicine and who has a controlled substances license under Article III of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act may write a recommendation for a debilitating medical condition. A physician may only issue a written certification in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship, after the physician has completed an assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history, reviewed relevant records related to the patient's debilitating condition, and conducted a physical examination. 

Becoming a Patient:

To register as a patient in the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, a patient must meeting the following requirements: 

1) Be a resident of the State of Illinois
2) Be diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. 
3) Have a signed, written certification from their physician for the use of medical cannabis;
4) Complete the fingerprint-based background check and not have been convicted of an excluded offense as specified under Section 25(b) of the Act (excluded offenses are primary violent felonies and felony drug convictions that were not for the medical use of cannabis); and
5) Be least 18 years of age (exception: those under the age of 18 whose debilitating medical condition is seizures may register).

Complete instructions can be found on the patient application form. Additionally, applicants must fill out the fingerprint consent form. The state Department of Health has issued a list of tips for patients applying to the program.

Special Note for Veterans Receiving their Healthcare Through the Veteran's Administration

Currently, V.A. physicians are not allowed to fill out state medical cannabis recommendation forms. However, Illinois has a work around exemption for veterans. In place of the written recommendation (step 3 above), Illinois veterans who have been diagnosed with one of the state's eligible qualifying conditions may submit the following two forms (v

  1. VA Form 10-5345 (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records or Health Information). If you have received care for your debilitating medical condition for more than 5 years at a VA facility, you must mark “OTHER” on VA Form 10-5345 under “INFORMATION REQUESTED” then specify that you are requesting information about the treatment of your debilitating medical condition for the most recent 12-month period. Under “PURPOSE(S) OR NEED FOR WHICH THE INFORMATION IS TO BE USED BY INDIVIDUAL TO WHOM INFORMATION IS TO BE RELEASED” write “personal medical purposes.” Under “NAME AND ADDRESS OF ORGANIZATION, INDIVIDUAL OR TITLE OF INDIVIDUAL TO WHOM INFORMATION IS TO BE RELEASED” write your address. Once you receive your official medical records, you must submit the medical records with your application.
  2. Form DD214 or equivalent certified documentation indicating character and dates of service.

Access/Caregivers

Patients or the designated caregivers may only obtain medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is not expected to have dispensaries available to patients until late 2015 or 2016. Once operational, patients or their caregivers may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medicine every 14 days.

Consumption

Do not medicate on school grounds, in a school bus, or while driving or operating heavy machinery.

Confidentiality

The state maintains a confidential list of the people who have been issued ID cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the list are confidential.

Housing

The prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their status as a patient or caregiver, unless failing to do so would cause it to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or rules. This does not prevent a landlord from prohibiting the smoking of cannabis on the premises; however, a landlord can not prohibit other means of consumption - such as vaporization or consuming edibles - but medical use in federal public housing units is not protected from federal sanctions.

Employment

The law prohibits disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board based solely on a person's status as a medical marijuana patient. The law does not require an employer to accommodate your use of marijuana in the workplace.

Child Custody

A patient shall not be denied custody or visitation of a minor for using medical marijuana, unless the patient's behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the minor.

Visiting Qualified Patients

Illinois does not honor reciprocity. Only registry identification cards issued through the Illinois Department of Public Health Division of Medical Cannabis are valid in Illinois.

For more information

Application forms and other information