Did you know? On August 1, 2013, Illinois adapted the Compassionate Use of a Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, Public Act 98-0122, enabling individuals diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions to obtain special privileges allowing access to cannabis and cannabis-related products specific to their illness.
Debilitating medical conditions that qualify an individual to receive these privileges include:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Residual Limb Pain
- Post-Concussion Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chron’s Disease
- Tourette Syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Nail-patella syndrome
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Tarlov Cysts
- Arnold-Chiari malformation
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Fibrous Dysplasia
- Interstitial cystitis
- Spinal cord disease/injury
- Spinocerebellar ataxia
Patients who’ve been diagnosed with one of the above conditions and wish to use marijuana as a treatment must first obtain a medical marijuana card and register on the state list. Once the medical marijuana card is obtained, the patient may then purchase marijuana and marijuana-related products from a local, licensed dispensary. To obtain the medical marijuana card, an application must be submitted to the appropriate state department, along with a photograph, fingerprints for a background check, Physician’s Certification, and the appropriate fees to pay for the medical marijuana card. Individuals must also meet the following qualifications/requirements:
- Must be a resident of the state of Illinois when applying and remain a resident while participating in the medical marijuana program.
- The fingerprint background check must be submitted within 30-days of the date of application (Download Fingerprint Consent Form). This background check ensures that you haven’t been convicted of a felony under the Cannabis Control Act, the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act.
- Individuals applying for a medical marijuana card may not serve as an active duty law enforcement or correctional officer, a probation officer, firefighter or hold a school bus driver’s permit.
Individuals holding a commercial drivers license are disqualified for inclusion in the program.
The Physician Written Certificate form is a special form that your physician must complete when recommending marijuana to treat your condition. The form must be completed after an in-person visit to the office at least 30 days prior or after submitting the application (Download Patient Application Form). The physician must mail the completed form to the Division of Medical Cannabis State Department within 90-days. Veterans currently receiving care from a VA Hospital are not required to submit a Physician Certificate.
All individuals applying for an Illinois medical marijuana card must pay an annual fee for the card. The fee is paid at the time the application is submitted. The cost of a card is $100 for one-year. At the end of this one-year period, patients may renew their card. The fee for a one-year renewal is $200 and a two-year renewal at a cost of $250. Patients who are disabled and receive benefits from the SSI, VA, or SSDI receive a reduced application fee. This fee is half the regular costs.
A 2x2-size photograph is needed to complete your application. This should be a clear face shot with a solid background. No one should be in the photograph with you. Do not use a selfie for this photo. Instead, is it a local photography center to have a new photo taken. It costs only a few bucks and will ensure that there is no delay in your application.
Proof of Residency
You must reside in Illinois to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Two forms of proof that you are a resident of the state must be submitted with the application. Acceptable forms of proof of residency include a driver’s license or state-issued identification card, utility bill, voter registration card, or a bank statement. The proof of residency forms submitted with the application must include your address on each form.
Patients approved for a medical marijuana card in the state of Illinois may designate a caregiver (Download Caregiver Application Form) to help them use their prescription. This person may also visit the dispensary to purchase cannabis and cannabis-related products for the patient. The designated caregiver must complete an application and submit it with the original application. There is an additional fee to designate a caregiver. Note that juvenile patients may assign two caregivers to their case.
Choosing a Marijuana Dispensary
Choosing a medical marijuana dispensary for the first time is both exciting and nerve-wracking as you seek to find a pharmacy that has a versatile, potent product selection, a comfortable shopping atmosphere, and knowledgeable, attentive assistants to answer questions and otherwise help you find the best product for your specific needs. You want to feel warm and welcomed while shopping, never rushed or that you are a bother. A total of 63 dispensaries are located in the state. If you live near Chicago, the more pharmacy dispensary choices you’ll have. Make sure the location chosen to fill your prescriptions offers the above qualities, at a minimum. Keep these tips in mind as well:
- Ask friends, family, and anyone else that you might know (whom you’re comfortable discussing the issue with, of course) who holds a medical marijuana card for a pharmacy recommendation. Word-of-mouth helps businesses grow and it’s certainly a phenomenal way to start a great conversation.
- Reviews are found in abundance online at websites like High Times and Leafly. Check these reviews to learn firsthand what customers think about a particular dispensary or those local to your area. Read the reviews (at no cost) to learn customers thoughts about the product quality, selection, professionalism, and knowledge of the staff.
- Choose a pharmacy that is in a convenient location to your area.
- Price of the product is also a top concern for patients purchasing medical marijuana. Product costs vary considerably from one pharmacy location to the next. Costs also vary according to the type of cannabis product that you’ve chosen and the amount that you purchase.
The following types of products are available for medical patients registered in the state of Illinois. Note that each product has a different effect. Talk to your doctor and budtender about each type and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
- Marijuana Flower/Bud: This is the most commonly used form of marijuana. The marijuana is broken up and smoked inside a paper, cigar paper, bong, pipe, or vaped using a vaporizer. Thousands of marijuana flower strains exist. Some contain CBD only while others contain only THC (THC vs. CBD). Still yet, some contain each of the compounds for even better results.
- Edibles: For people that prefer want to indulge in a yummy treat and get their dose of medicine, edibles are available. At one time, brownies were the only edibles option but today there are dozens of cannabis-infused edibles, including gummies, candies, chocolates, cookies, popcorn, and more. Patients can even find coffees, teas, and colas! Edibles offer long-lasting relief but can take time to feel the effects. It is also more difficult to control dosing when using edibles.
- Transdermal Patches: Transdermal patches are thin patches that contain medicine that you apply to the skin. The patches are safe and highly-effective with a variety of formulations to suit the needs of all users. The patches must be applied to clean, dry skin where there is no hair. The patches may cause skin irritation in patients with sensitive skin.
Tinctures: Tinctures are dissolved in the mouth underneath the tongue. The cannabis and coconut-oil liquids are easy-to use and is the most preferred method for children and teens. There is only minimal taste and the result are long-lasting. The downside is that tinctures are often the most expensive of the marijuana options.
The marijuana dispensaries want you as their customer and offer a number of exciting deals and special offers to sway you into their pharmacy. Don’t choose a pharmacy until you’ve browsed these offers since they provide such immaculate money-saving deals for users. Special offers are easy to find online at marijuana-centered websites. Sign-up for the pharmacys email newsletter or club for additional savings and discounts.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Medical Marijuana Card?
The amount of time that it takes to receive your medical marijuana card after submitting an application varies. There is little doubt that you are anxious to receive the card, but it takes time, like all great things. The department can take up to 12-weeks to approve or deny your application. Don’t bother calling or emailing to check on the status. The department is far too busy to personally respond to each application inquiry. To speed the process time, be sure that you submit all of the required documents and certifications with your application and make sure the doctor sends the Physician Form in the same day that you visit. Patience is a virtue when waiting on the card to arrive in the mail but rest assured it is on its way to your home and soon you’re on your way o the relief that you want, need, and deserve. Apply for Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program.
Register Your Dispensary
A Medical Cannabis Dispensary Form must be completed once you’ve chosen the dispensary you wish to shop with. This form registers your dispensary and officially completes the process for purchase of medical marijuana. Although it is easy to change your dispensary selection at anytime without incurring any fees, it saves time and hassle to choose the right dispensary from the start. This form is available from the Division of Medical Marijuana. Once you’ve chosen a dispensary, you can begin shopping within 24-hours.
Tips & Information
- More than 4,400 medical marijuana patients live in Illinois.
- Patients are free to visit the provider of their choice to obtain their Physician Certification (Download the Physician Certification Form) and marijuana recommendation. The doctor must be a licensed doctor under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 and must hold a controlled substance license. There must be a prior doctor-patient relationship and the physician should be in good standing with the state. Costs of the visit are payable at the time services are rendered at your own expense.
- You must present your medical marijuana card each time you visit a dispensary.
- If you move while on the state medical marijuana registry, you must report that move within 10-days. Other changes, such as those with your name, must also be reported. Failure to provide this information to the department within the specified time frame results in a fine of $150 and revocation of your medical marijuana card.
- Patients may purchase and possess up to 2.5-ounces of marijuana in a two-week period. The Department of Public Health determined this to be a safe, suitable amount of medication to satisfy the needs of a patient.
- Although medical marijuana is legal in the state, cultivation of the product by patients is not. Avoid cultivating marijuana in your home since it is against the law and could arrest in your arrest and imprisonment.
- Application fees are non-refundable under any circumstances.
- If you are renewing your medical marijuana card, no fingerprints are needed.
- If you lose your medical marijuana card, there is a fee of $25 assessed for a replacement card.
- Marijuana remains illegal under Federal guidelines. Possessing marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, is still subject to all federal laws, including prosecution for possession.
- Do not operate a motor vehicle after consuming cannabis. It is illegal and can result in a DWI charge if you are pulled over by law enforcement.
- Do not share your medical marijuana with other people. The prescription is written for you and is illegal to share with others.
- The Smoke-Free Illinois Tobacco Act prevents any tobacco or cannabis-related products to be consumed in public.
- It is illegal to travel with cannabis outside the state of Illinois.
In a few short weeks you could be the next patient healing their medical condition with medical cannabis. Many patients in Illinois and throughout the country have already made the connection and now enjoy a rewarding, healthier life than before. Use the guide above to assist you in the medical marijuana card requirements and application process an you are one step closer to your prescription card!
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