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Prescribed opioids but want to try medical marijuana instead? Here's How

January 22, 2019

Prescribed opioids but want to try medical marijuana instead? Here's How

Contact Heartland CannAssist for more information.  The Illinois Department of Public Health is set to roll out its Opioid Alternative Pilot Program by the end of January 2019. This program is expected to dramatically increase demand for medical marijuana.

Dispensaries around the state are extending hours, hiring additional workers and more in preparation for increased demand. Signed into law in August 2018, the pilot program will allow people who are prescribed opioids to access medical marijuana. Previously, patients had to have one of about 40 qualifying conditions, such as cancer or AIDS, to be able to use the drug.  

Here's How it Will Work

• Patients visit a doctor. A patient must either have a prescription for an opioid already or the doctor must determine that one could be prescribed. To qualify for the pilot program, patients must be certified by a doctor.  One of the concerns is that many doctors will not certify with the state for medical marijuana use.  Heartland CannAssist has doctors that will be able to access the registration system and certify a patient. 

• The doctor electronically submits a physician certification via Illinois’ new registration system. This is one of the new pieces of technology the state has been working to implement. The system is secure, and only physicians have access.  

• Once the physician certification is submitted, the patient can go to a dispensary or a local health department for help registering for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.

• Or, once the physician certification is submitted, patients can also register through the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program’s website, which the state is still setting up, or seek help at a dispensary or health department. Patients will need a copy of their driver’s license or state ID and a passport-style photo and will be required to pay $10. People who are licensed to drive a school bus or commercial vehicle must cancel those licenses to be eligible.

• Once all of those items are uploaded into the state’s system, it will generate a registration number and approve the patient for 90 days. Patients will not get plastic cards the way medical marijuana program participants do. Instead, registration certificates will be emailed to them, Moody said. The patients can either print them out or keep them on their phones, just like electronic tickets to a concert or boarding passes.

• Patients can buy marijuana shortly after registering.

• When the 90 days are up, patients must visit their doctor and have them submit another physician certification and pay the $10 to renew.

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