Illinois Expands It’s Medical Marijuana Program

Possession-of-Marijuana-300x200On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, signed into law a measure that drastically expands the Illinois Medical Marijuana Program. The main focus of the expanded Medical Marijuana legislation is to attack the massive opioid epidemic which led to the loss of almost 2,000 lives in Illinois in 2016, and roughly 72,000 people throughout the country.

Under current state law, in order to qualify for Medical Marijuana, you must be suffering from certain illnesses that are set forth in the Medical Marijuana statute. This new law will allow doctors to prescribe Medical Marijuana for any patient that would qualify for a prescription opioid drug such as OxyContin, Vicodin, or Percocet. This new law takes into consideration the addictive qualities of prescription opioids and the medicinal value and benefits of Medical Marijuana. It recognizes that Medical Marijuana is a viable and beneficial alternative to prescription opioid drugs.

The new law is based on solid scientific evidence which has shown that states that have legalized Medical Marijuana have experienced a sharp decrease in the number of opioid-related deaths. At the same time, numerous medical studies have shown that Medical Marijuana can be effective in treating pain that would otherwise be treated by highly addictive prescription opioid drugs. Now, patients who suffer from chronic pain have a choice between using Medical Marijuana or taking opioid-related prescription drugs. Studies have shown that no deaths have resulted from the use of Medical Marijuana to treat chronic pain.

However, patients receiving Medical Marijuana instead of prescription opioid related drugs, will have limits on how long they can receive Medical Marijuana. Patients who are allowed to take Medical Marijuana for anything other than opioid replacement purposes, are allowed to take Medical Marijuana for 3 years. Patients that are allowed to take Medical Marijuana for opioid-related purposes are allowed to maintain this authorization for only 90-days. The 90-day authorization for opioid-related Medical Marijuana patients can be extended for 90 days by the patient’s doctor. The aspects of the new law that relate to prescription opioid-related patients takes effect on December 1. The State of Illinois will have until early next year to implement a program to make sure that such patients do not go to multiple dispensaries and don’t use Medical Marijuana for more than 90-days.

In addition to the provision in the new law which allows for the use of Medical Marijuana for prescription opioid-related patients, the new law makes it easier for anyone trying to obtain a Medical Marijuana card to do so. The new law eliminates the requirement that anyone applying for Medical Marijuana has to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. The elimination of the fingerprint requirement lowers the cost of attempting to obtain a Medical Marijuana card a little bit, while the elimination of the requirement that a Medical Marijuana applicant has to undergo a criminal background check will make the use of Medical Marijuana available to more citizens of Illinois. The elimination of the fingerprint and criminal background check goes into effect immediately.

The new law also fixes a major complaint in the Illinois Medical Marijuana program. If you complete an online application with a doctor’s authorization, you no longer have to wait several months for the State of Illinois to approve your application. Once you receive a receipt verifying that you paid the fee for the application, you will receive a provisional registration confirmation that allows you to be able to immediately buy Medical Marijuana while your application is pending. This provision takes effect immediately and provides immediate relief for patients who are in pain and need help.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, Marijuana lawyer with over 25 years of experience handling Drug cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. In 2017, Expertise named James Dimeas a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago.” James Dimeas has been named a “Best DUI Attorney.” The National Trial Lawyers have named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.: Recently, the American Society of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer In the State of Illinois For the Year 2018.”

If you are being charged with a Marijuana crime, or a Drug crime, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can speak to James Dimeus anytime by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Resources:

Rauner Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill Allowing Drug as Painkiller Alternative, by Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune, August 29, 2018.

Additional Blogs:

Illinois Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2017.

Medical Marijuana Patients Beware:  You May Have a Bulls Eye on Your Car, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 2, 2017.