Illinois enacted the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act on Aug. 1, 2013. Since then, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has approved applications for 61,231 qualifying patients, as of April 9, 2019. The Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program enables those who are diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition to register with the IDPH and gain access to medical marijuana.

Illinois Qualifying Conditions

The most current list of qualifying conditions is available on the Illinois Department of Health website. Here is a list of some of the most common:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation, or type II spina bifida
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), 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 or injury
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury

Applying for Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Qualifying patients must first receive a written certification from a physician specifying their debilitating condition. Veterans receiving health services at a Veterans Affairs (VA) facility must submit one year of medical records. Physicians are required to fill out a Physician Written Certification Form, which must be included with a patient’s online application or paper application.

A physician certification must provide proof of an in-person office visit date within 90 days of the application date. Physicians must have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with a patient, which includes claiming responsibility for the ongoing care and treatment of the patient’s debilitating condition and the completion of an in-person assessment of the patient’s medical history and medical condition.

MCPP Registry Card fees are $100 for a one-year card, $200 for a two-year card, or $250 for a three-year card. Patients receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and veterans may be eligible for a reduced application fee, which drops the cost to $50 for a one-year card, $100 for a two-year card and $125 for a three-year card.

Families of a minor with a debilitating condition can also choose among a one-year, two-year, or three-year Medical Cannabis Registry Card. One caregiver is included at no charge in the application, and a second caregiver may be added by completing a caregiver application and submitting a $75 fee.  

Appointing a Caregiver

A caregiver can apply to assist a patient with the use of medical marijuana. Caregivers are required to obtain a registry card in order to enter a medical cannabis dispensary with a patient. A Designated Caregiver Application must be submitted along with the required documentation for the patient’s application.

Caregiver application fees are $25 for a one-year registry card and $50 for a two-year registry card.  A fee of $75 is required for any caregiver applying separately to assist a patient who has already registered with the state.

Ashley’s Law, which went into effect in 2018, amends existing school code to allow students registered with the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program to access medical cannabis-infused products at school or on a school bus. A parent or guardian with a caregiver ID card may administer the product to a student. Registered qualifying patients youngerage of 18 cannot smoke or vape medical cannabis.

Acquiring Your Medicine

There are 55 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in Illinois as of April 9, 2019. Dispensary selections can only be made through the IDPH, and registered medical marijuana patients must select a medical cannabis dispensary from an official list of registered dispensaries. Once the dispensary selection is processed, patients will be contacted by the IDPH by phone or email to confirm. Approved applicants can start to purchase from the dispensary 24 hours after receiving confirmation from the IDPH.

Rules for Patients Visiting from Other States (Reciprocity)

The law states that only residents of Illinois can participate in the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. There is no reciprocity for out-of-state patients.

Don Jergler is the Regional West Editor for Insurance Journal and a veteran business and real estate reporter. He has contributed coverage for the Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach Register, Los Angeles Times Custom Publishing and a variety of trade publications.

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