Changes to Illinois Medical Cannabis Program – SB 336

Governor Rauner Signs Senate Bill 336

New Changes for Medical Cannabis Patients in Illinois

 

On August 28, 2018, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018, which amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, into law. There are several components to the provisions of Senate Bill 336.

  1. It removes the fingerprinting requirement for new applicants to the program;
  2. It allows the Illinois Department of Public health (IDPH) to issue provisional access to a licensed medical cannabis dispensary until full processing of applications can be completed; and
  3. It includes provisions for an Opioid Alternative Pilot Program which would provide access to medical cannabis for people with physician documentation of an opioid prescription.

Recent small-scale scientific studies offer promising evidence that medical cannabis can serve as a substitute for opioids. Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Alternatives to opioids for the treatment of pain are necessary to address this issue. Some medical cannabis patients report that cannabis can be an effective treatment for pain, it greatly reduces the chance of dependence, and it eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to opioid-based medications.

The provisions of Senate Bill 336 will not compromise patient safety or the State’s measures to ensure compliance with program standards.

  • The established standards requiring a physician’s certification of the qualifying patient’s debilitating condition remain in place, while adding a provision for the revocation of a physician certification based on changed health status or a contraindication to a patient’s health through continued use.
  • All Medical Cannabis Pilot Program patients and Opioid Alternative Pilot Program participants must be registered with IDPH to access licensed dispensaries.
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries will continue to verify registered qualifying patients in IDPH’s online verification system prior to dispensing medical cannabis.
  • The program will continue to submit information about registered qualifying patients in the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program pursuant to the Illinois Controlled Substances Act to provide awareness to physicians about patient participation in the Medical Cannabis Registry Program before issuing a prescription for controlled substances.

The following FAQs have been developed to assist our partners in answering questions from the general public and health care providers as we begin the work of implementing the changes to the Act.

Are fingerprints required for people applying for a Medical Cannabis registry card?

Effective, August 28, 2018, applicants for a Medical Cannabis registry card will NOT have to obtain a fingerprint background check. Fingerprint background checks for all applications currently under review will be waived. Applicants who were denied for a Medical Cannabis Registry Card, prior to August 28, 2018, due to an excluded offense may submit a complete, new application to IDPH.

Can patients with an opioid prescription go to a dispensary today?

No. The Act requires IDPH and the other agencies involved in the program to adopt emergency administrative rules by December 1, 2018. IDPH will also have to make changes in the registration process to implement the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program. Please do not send any documents to IDPH at this time. Do not use the current application to submit a registration for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.

When can patients register with the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program?

There are a lot of steps IDPH and the other agencies must work through to begin implementation, including modifications to our registration system, so it is impossible to provide an exact date at this time. IDPH must adopt administrative rules by December 1, 2018. We recommend you visit the IDPH website www.dph.illinois.gov or www.mcpp.illinois.gov

What if a patient wants to apply for the Medical Cannabis Registry Program now?

If a patient has one or more of the qualifying debilitating conditions specified in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act and is interested in applying for a Medical Cannabis registry card, please visit the IDPH website at www.dph.illinois.gov for more information. Patients may also apply online by clicking on the On-line Medical Cannabis Registry Application on the right side of the website under RESOURCES or at https://medicalcannabispatients.illinois.gov/.

If a patient has more questions about the Medical Cannabis Registry Program or the requirements of SB 336, should they call the Medical Cannabis Program?

We recommend emailing dph.medicalcannabis@illinois.gov with any questions.  We are also always available to help as best we can here at The Dispensary.  Until the new rules are released in December, our information is mainly limited to that contained within this newsletter, at this time.

 

For more information regarding Senate Bill 336 and it’s implementation, please view the links below.

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