Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Trade Opioid Prescriptions for Marijuana
A bill that would allow patients prescribed opioids to medical marijuana was approved by the Illinois Senate on Thursday. The proposed law grants temporary access to the state’s medical marijuana program so that patients can try the drug as an alternative option for pain relief.
How It Would Work
Patients currently using opioids would be able to purchase legal marijuana in a state dispensary. They would present their opioid prescription, along with a signed note from their doctor, instead of their registration with the state marijuana program. Dispensaries would be required to verify that the individual is not already receiving medical marijuana.
Patients who enter the program through an opioid prescription would be granted a temporary marijuana card that lasts for just 12 months. Once it expires, patients with persistent conditions have the option to apply for a permanent card. Like all other medical marijuana users in the state, they would be limited to just 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks.
Opponents Say Follow the Money
Those opposed to the bill say lawmakers are trying to help boost profits for state dispensaries. They also point to the fact that the bill’s sponsors have received campaign contributions from medical marijuana interests, such as Senator Don Harmon, who received $8,000 for his campaign from cannabis companies.
Harmon says he does not know if marijuana is addictive, but he does know that “opioids and heroin kills people,” while marijuana does not. The bill is now headed to the House for consideration.