HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - Right now, many medical cannabis dispensaries across the state of Illinois are making more hires in anticipation for more demand of medical marijuana due to a new program under the Medical Cannabis Act in the state.
The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program was signed into law under former Governor Bruce Rauner back in August 2018 and takes effect at the end of January 2019.
In short, the program will give patients who are being treated for conditions with prescription opioids the option to get a medical cannabis card instead.
According to patient adviser for Thrive in Harrisburg, Amber Ruddick, right now there’s only 41 conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis in Illinois.
Once this program starts, all the people addicted to opioids because they needed them for pain will be able to go to people like her for alternative treatment.
“They’ll come in, tell us a little about their condition,” she said. "What they’ve been dealing with, how long they’ve been on these opiates, and we just kind of help segway them in to what we think would be best.”
But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
You still have to get permission from your doctor, who will need to sign all the correct forms to register patients with the state. However, many physicians in the state still don’t support medical cannabis as a valid form of pain treatment without more data to support it.
“That’s one of the biggest obstacles I think Illinois is going to see, is getting doctors on board,” Ruddick said.
Still, Ruddick and her employers only see more business in the future, both because of this program, and the fact that many signs point toward Illinois legalizing recreational use of marijuana with J.B. Pritzker in the governor’s seat. Therefore, they are hiring more people and stocking more inventory to get ready.
“We’re just trying our best to get prepared and follow the law and stay compliant,” Ruddick said. “We’re ready to help any way we can.”