Legalization discussion gains momentum


Last update: May 29, 2018


In March of 2017, state lawmakers introduced legislation that would end marijuana prohibition in Illinois and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use. Some considered it a long shot at the time, especially in a state that would have to pass a legalization bill through the state legislature.

In 2018, it doesn’t seem like a long shot any more – far from it. For the second year in a row, 66% of voters in Illinois support a legalization program that taxes and regulates cannabis for adults similar to alcohol. A recent referendum in Cook County corroborated that support. The Democratic challenger to Gov. Rauner this November, J.B. Pritzker, has strongly advocated for legalization. Illinois is poised to make this historic shift. Following discussions with key stakeholders, we expect lawmakers to introduce an amended version of the bill later this year.

Two significant medical cannabis bills are also on the move in 2018. Senate Bill 336 would allow those who could be prescribed opioid medication to be eligible for enrollment in the state medical cannabis program. Another bill, HB 4870, is currently awaiting the governor’s signature and would allow those attending school to get limited access to non-smoked forms of medical cannabis.

Challenges continue in medical cannabis program


The state’s medical cannabis program improved last year when it was extended until at least July 2020, and both PTSD and terminal illness were added as qualifying medical conditions. But the state’s medical cannabis program also needs further improvement. Its failure to include severe or persistent pain as a qualifying medical condition leaves behind a huge number of seriously ill patients who would otherwise benefit. Many who should have more options have no choice but to turn to dangerous narcotic medications. We hope lawmakers will consider what an impact medical cannabis can have for those who live in pain. And, like in Colorado, it may be that many patients won’t get relief until the state legalizes cannabis use for adults.

For more information on how to register as a patient, or to see announcements from state program officials, follow this link.

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