Bill proposes medical marijuana over opioids for pain in IL

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - A bill is now in front of an Illinois Executive House Committee that would make some big changes to the IL Medical Cannabis Act. Proposed changes suggest allowing patients with conditions that would be prescribed opioids to have access to medical cannabis cards instead.

The proposed legislation passed in the State Senate with an overwhelming majority of 44-6 in April.

SIUC Law Health Policy Law professor, Michele Mekel, says if this proposed amendment were to pass, it could mean big changes for the state.

"This simply broadens the medical use component to Illinois Pilot Project," she said, "So Illinois Medical Cannabis Act is simply a pilot project and it has a sunset date. Depending on how successful it is, it might lead to extending it beyond the sunset date."

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It would also speed up the process of getting a medical cannabis card.

Eric Sweat, owner of Medical Cannabis Outreach, a service that helps people get into the program says currently it takes patients about 90 days to get a card. This comes after they've gone through the process of getting their doctor to fill out an application saying the have one of the 41 existing qualifying conditions in Illinois and collect appropriate documents.

The proposed changes also remove an important bar from getting a card for people addicted to opioids as well. Mekel says, in the current laws, when a person is convicted of abusing opioids, they are not allowed to get a cannabis card. Under the proposed changes she says that barrier would be removed.

The bill is SB336 and is in front of an Executive House Committee awaiting further action.

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