On July 1 Governor Rauner signed a bill that extended the term of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program into 2020. The bill also made a number of other changes to the current system, however. The new rules went into effect on August 1st and since many of the new regulations are only being sporadically reported here is a breakdown what is different in the program, as of today.

Physician Certification

Physicians no longer need to include a recommendation that cannabis will provide relief for a patients’ symptoms. They now must only:

  1. Have a bona-fide physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient. The bona-fide physician-patient relationship may not be limited to issuing a written certification for the patient or a consultation simply for that purpose.
  2. Have responsibility for the ongoing care and treatment of the qualifying patient’s debilitating condition, provided that the ongoing treatment and care shall not be limited to or for the primary purpose of certifying a debilitating medical condition or providing a consultation solely for that purpose.
  3. Complete an in-person full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a personal physical examination, not more than 90 days prior to making the certification for medical cannabis.
  4. Certify that the qualifying patient is under the physician’s care, either for the qualifying patient’s primary care or for his or her debilitating medical condition or symptoms of a debilitating medical condition.

This essentially means that your doctor must only certify that you have a qualifying condition, certify that they are your treating physician for this condition, and must have examined you no more than 90 days prior to filling out the physician certification form.

New Covered Conditions

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Terminal Illnesses are now covered in the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

Application for a medical card for PTSD follows the standard procedure, namely physician certification of illness, paying fees, and sending in the necessary paperwork.

Patients with a terminal illness – this is defined in the law as a life-expectancy of six months or less – must request a special application from the Illinois Department of Health. Applications for terminal illness cannot be filled out online, and there are no application fees.

Fees and Card Duration

Fees for applications for medical cannabis cards after August 1, 2016 are now $300 plus doctor visit and fingerprinting costs. Persons enrolled in the federal Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income programs, as well as veterans, are eligible for a reduced fee of $150.

The increase in fees comes with an increase in duration of the card. Medical cannabis cards issued under the new fee structure now last for three years, rather than one year. Though this increases the up-front cost of the card it means that patients will not have to re-apply annually, and so down the road patients will not have to pay additional costs for fingerprinting or doctor’s visits.

Anyone that already has a card may submit a request for two year extension along with the paying the difference in fees ($200.) The Department of Health has not yet released the extension forms, but keep checking in with us on Facebook and we’ll notify you when they are available. Extension requests do not need additional fingerprinting or physician certification.

New Waiver Form for Increased Cannabis Supply

Previously if you needed a waiver for more than the allotted 2.5 oz of cannabis every 14 days your physician needed to apply for a waiver on their certification form. The Illinois Department of Health will be issuing a new form going forward for this purpose. Again, the new form has not yet been released, but we will announce when it is made available.

Medical Cannabis Advisory Board

There has been a change to the role of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. Patients will no longer submit petitions for new conditions to be covered to The Board. The Illinois Department of Health will accept petitions directly from January 1 – January 30 annually. The Board, along with other Health Department staff, will serve as advisors to the Director of the Illinois Department of Health when deciding whether to expand the program to cover another illness. This likely means there will be no public review of petitions as was the case in 2015.

Violent Crime

Violent Crime is no longer listed as an excludable offense to receive a medical cannabis card, nor to be a designated caregiver.

The full list of amendments can be downloaded from the IDPH here. Feel free to contact us, or our partners at Medical Cannabis Outreach if you have any questions on these changes.

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