Governor Bruce Rauner today signed the Alternatives to Opioids act of 2018, allowing eligible patients to use medical marijuana instead of opioids for treatment of chronic pain.
“This law will give thousands of Illinoisans who struggle with the negative side effects of opioids, including harmful addiction, another choice to manage their pain,” the governor said. “This is not about personal opinions about cannabis. It’s about giving people more control over their own health care and pain-relief options.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health reports opioid deaths in Illinois increased 13 percent from 2016 to 2017. Meanwhile, the Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that states with medical marijuana dispensaries have seen a 14.4 percent decrease in the use of prescription opioids.
The new law, Senate Bill 336, puts in place a pilot program that will not compromise patient safety or diminish medical marijuana program standards, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Licensed physicians must certify an individual has a medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed. Participants must register at a licensed dispensary. The program is limited to individuals 21 and older. Dispensations are limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days and cannot exceed 90 days per physician certification.
The Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018 also allows those applying for a medical cannabis registry card for one of the qualified conditions to access medical cannabis while their application is being reviewed.
The Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018 is effective immediately.