May 8, 2018

Illinois Bill May Allow Patients to Trade Opioids for Marijuana

Illinois Senate Bill 336, having passed the Senate with a 44-6 vote, is now headed to the House of Representatives, potentially allowing patients to obtain medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids.

Patients with a valid opioid prescription, upon receiving a signed doctor’s note, would be able to take their opioid prescription to a medical marijuana dispensary where they could receive up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks.

The bill would grant opioid users a 12-month temporary card, enrolling them in the state’s medical marijuana program. Dispensaries must verify that these applicable patients are not already receiving medical marijuana, and after a year, patients must apply for a permanent card if their condition persists.

The current draft of the bill states that if an opioid prescription was issued for a seven-day length or less, dispensaries could give patients enough cannabis to equal up to four times the prescription length. If an opioid prescription is for 30 days or more, dispensaries can give patients enough cannabis to equal twice the prescription length.

Legislators are also considering separate legislation which would allow Illinois voters to decide on the November ballot if marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. If that measure passed by popular vote, Illinois would be the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. According to a January 2018 poll, 61% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

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