Becoming a Patient in Illinois

In 2013, The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (the “Act”) was enacted to create a temporary statewide registry and distribution program for patients with one of more than thirty debilitating medical conditions. The Act was subsequently amended to apply to patients under the age of 18, to add certain qualifying debilitating medical conditions, and to extend expiration of the pilot program to July 1, 2020. The Act allows patients with a Registry ID Card to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks from one of over 40 dispensaries supplied by 19 cultivation centers. Cultivation by patients or their caregivers is prohibited. 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.

What's Legal

The Act allows patients and their designated caregivers to apply for a Registry ID Card, which allows them to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable medical marijuana. Patients or their designated caregivers can only acquire medical marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary. 

Eligible Conditions

Patients with the following debilitating medical conditions are eligible for a Registry ID Card:

  • 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) (added by SB 2636 (2014))
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (added by SB10 (2016))
  • any terminal illness with a diagnosis of 6 months or less (added by SB10 (2016));
  • or any other debilitating medical condition that is added pursuant to statute or by rulemaking initiated by the Illinois Department of Public Health

During a one-month period each year, the Illinois Department of Public Health (“DPH”) accepts petitions for the addition of new debilitating medical conditions. Petitions must be in the form specified by the DPH and include certain specified supporting information. The DPH must accept or reject any petition within 180 days of submittal.    

Becoming a Patient

To obtain a Registry ID Card, a patient must meet the following requirements: 

1) Be a resident of the State of Illinois
2) Have a debilitating medical condition. 
3) Have a physician complete and submit a certification of the patient’s debilitating medical condition (except for veterans receiving care at a VA facility); 
4) Complete the fingerprint-based background check and not have been convicted of certain excluded offenses (primarily violent felonies and felony drug convictions that were not for the medical use of cannabis); 
5) Be at least 18 years of age (special conditions apply to minors, see below);

6) Not hold a school bus permit or Commercial Driver’s License; and

7) Not be an active duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, or firefighter.

Application Process

Patients may apply for a Registry ID Card online through the state’s online application portal or by completing and submitting a printed application available online.  Registry ID Cards are good for 3 years at which point they must be renewed.  The application fee is $300, or $150 for patients receiving SSI or SSDI benefits. The applicant must also provide a 2”x2” photograph, proof of age and identify, proof of residency, and a receipt from their fingerprint vendor.  The DPH may take up to 30 days to decide whether to approve a patient's application and must provide a Registry ID Card within 30 days of approving the application. 

Patients and caregivers must submit fingerprints from a certified vendor. A list of approved vendors can be found here. Patients also have to designate a dispensary and must notify DPH of any changes to their chosen dispensary. 

The Illinois program has special rules for military veterans who are unable to obtain a certification from a non-Veteran’s Administration (VA) physician. If the person otherwise qualifies and is a VA-patient, they may provide the following instead of a physician certification: (1) a copy of their U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official hospital medical records requested on VA form 10-5345, and (2) a copy of their  DD214 or equivalent certified document indicating character and dates of service.

Terminally ill patients are exempt from the fingerprinting and application fee requirements and the DPH must process their applications within 10 days of submission.  As of August 2016, terminally ill patients are required to submit a paper application (available here) and are not able to apply through the online portal.    

Minors

Patients under the age of 18 may apply for a registry ID card under certain conditions.  The minor must have a debilitating medical condition and two certifications—one from their physician following an in-person visit and another from a reviewing physician based the minor’s medical records.  The minor’s custodial parent or legal guardian must be the minor’s designated caregiver and complete his or her application.  The minor may have up to two designated caregivers.  Minors are not required to submit a photo with their application or undergo a fingerprint background check.     

Doctor

Any doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed to practice in Illinois and licensed under Article III of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act may certify a patient’s 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 and conducted an in-person physical examination within 90 days prior to the date of the certification. (See also Recommending Cannabis)

Access/Caregivers

Patients may select a designated caregiver to assist with the patient’s use of medical cannabis. Patients under the age of 18 may have two designated caregivers, if both are parents or legal guardians with significant decision-making responsibility for the patient.  Designated caregivers must be 21 years of age or older and must apply for a Registry ID Card online through the state’s online application portal or by completing and submitting a printed application available online. The application process and requirements for designated caregivers are consistent with those for patients. Registry ID Cards for designated caregivers are valid for 3 years and cost $75 if applied for at the same time as the patient and $100 if applied for separately.

A patient’s designated caregiver may purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary.  A patient and his or her designated caregiver are prohibited from purchasing (collectively) more than 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis in any two week period.

Possession and Consumption

At all times that a patient or designated caregiver are in the possession of medical marijuana, they must also have their Registry ID Card in their possession. Possession is not permitted in a school bus, on school or correctional facility grounds, or in child care facilities.  Possession is prohibited in vehicles unless the medical cannabis is in a secured, sealed, tamper-evident container that is inaccessible while driving.   

Using medical cannabis is prohibited in school buses, on school or correctional facility grounds, in motor vehicles, in child care facilities, in public places or in close proximity to minors.  In addition, smoking medical cannabis is not permitted in health care facilities or anywhere smoking is prohibited under Illinois law.  Operating motor vehicles while using or under the influence of medical cannabis is prohibited. .

Confidentiality

The DPH maintains a confidential web-based system for verifying Registry ID Cards and tracking medical cannabis purchases that is available to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, law enforcement personnel and medical cannabis dispensaries. 

Housing

The Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their status as a patient or designated caregiver, unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law. Landlords may prohibit the smoking of cannabis on the premises but cannot prohibit other means of consumption—such as vaporization or consuming edibles.  Medical use in federal public housing units is not protected from federal sanctions.

Employment

The law prohibits discrimination against or disciplinary action by an employer 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 the use of medical 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.

Nonresident Medical Marijuana Patients

Illinois does not honor reciprocity. Only Registry ID Cards issued through the DPH are valid in Illinois.

For more information

See the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Website for additional information, access to the Registry ID Card application portal (if applying online) and application forms.

For questions regarding patient and caregiver registration, call or email the DPH Division of Medical Cannabis at 855-636-3688 or DPH.MedicalCannabis@illinois.gov.