Matt Turner

Illinois Gov. Makes Medical Cannabis Program Permanent

Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois has signed legislation expanding the state’s medical cannabis program, including one bill that makes the program — which was set to expire next year — permanent.

Full story after the jump.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed legislation making the state’s medical cannabis program permanent and expanding the qualifying conditions list, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The law also allows nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to certify patients for the program. A separate bill also signed by the governor on Monday allows medical cannabis to be used on school grounds and administered by school nurses or administrators.

“As we continue to reform state government so that it better serves its families, we must do so in a way that advances dignity, empathy, opportunity and grace.” — Pritzker, during the bill signing ceremony, via the Sun-Times

The medical cannabis law was set to expire next year. It was signed into law by former Gov. Pat Quinn in 2013 as a pilot program; sales commenced under Gov. Bruce Rauner who, after initially rejecting program expansions, approved adding terminal illness and post-traumatic stress disorder to the qualifying conditions list. Rauner also created the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program, which gave opioid patients the option to participate in the medical cannabis program and eliminated previous provisions requiring would-be patients to submit to fingerprinting and criminal background checks. There are 2,165 patients enrolled in the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program, according to Department of Public Health data outlined by the Sun-Times.

In June, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize cannabis for adult use – marking the first time a state legislature approved a legalization measure that included a taxed-and-regulated structure. Recreational cannabis taxes in the state are expected to be between 20 percent and 30 percent; however, medical products will be only subject to the 1 percent pharmaceutical tax. Medical cannabis patients in Illinois are also allowed to grow their own plants.

As of July 31, there were 80,035 medical cannabis patients in Illinois.

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