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:

  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Cancer
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
  • Dystonia
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Residual limb pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of Epilepsy)
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
  • Spinal cord injury is damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome

Application Process

Any eligible qualifying patient may submit an application. Persons who are receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and veterans may be eligible for a reduced application fee. Fees as of December 2016 are the following:

Application Fee Reduced Application Fee
❏$100 - One-Year Registry Card ❏$50 - One-Year Registry Card
❏$200 - Two-Year Registry Card ❏$100 - Two-Year Registry Card
❏$250 - Three-Year Registry Card ❏$125 - Three-Year Registry Card

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 meet the following requirements: 

  • Be a resident of the State of Illinois at the time of application and remain a resident during participation in the program;
  • Have a qualifying debilitating medical condition;
  • Have a signed physician certification (unless you are a veteran receiving medical care at a VA facility);
  • Complete the fingerprint-based background check within 30 days of submitting your application and not have been convicted of an excluded offense (a felony under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, Cannabis Control Act, or Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, or similar provisions in a local ordinance or other jurisdiction), unless the Department waives such a conviction(s);
  • Be at least 18 years of age to register on your own (special rules to register for legal guardians to register patients under the age of 18, see section below);
  • Not hold a school bus permit or Commercial Driver’s License; and
  • Not be an active duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, or firefighter.

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.

Minor Patients:

Minor qualifying patients do not need to submit a photo or undergo a fingerprint background check.
 
A physician certification is required as well as a reviewing physician certification.
 
A designated caregiver shall be specified for a minor qualifying patient:

  • A qualifying patient under 18 years of age may identify two designated caregivers if both biological parents or two legal guardians have significant decision-making responsibilities over the qualifying patient; or
  • If only one biological parent or legal guardian has significant decision-making responsibilities for the qualifying patient under 18 years of age, then a second designated caregiver may be identified.

Qualifying patients who turn 18 years of age during the time period in which their registry identification card is valid may apply for an adult registry identification card immediately or during the normal renewal period.  Until that time, the registry identification card shall be subject to the conditions applicable to the registered qualifying patient under age 18.
 
Designated caregivers of registered qualifying patients under 18 years of age may only purchase medical cannabis-infused products from registered dispensing organizations; other types of medical cannabis products are not allowed.

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

Veterans receiving health care at a VA facility do not need to provide a physician written certification, but must instead provide medical records from the VA facility for the last 12 months.

  • Use VA form 10-5345 to request these records (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records and 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 write that you are requesting information about the treatment of your qualified condition for the most recent 12-month period. Under “PURPOSE(S) OR NEED FOR WHICH THE INFORMATION 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. The records will be sent to you.
  • To obtain VA medical records electronically, go online to https://www.myhealth.va.gov/index.html
  • Once you receive your official medical records, you must submit the medical records with your application.

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