Illinois Gov. Signs Expanded Medical Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana in Illinois is about to be a lot more accessible. A measure to expand the state's medical marijuana regulations was signed into law this week by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. The law makes it easier for patients to qualify for marijuana and creates a more direct path for them to obtain the drug.

Once the all the details are in place, patients will be able to obtain a certificate from their doctor and take it directly to a dispensary to purchase cannabis. This part of the law is designed to increase access for patients who want to use marijuana as a replacement for opioid pain medication.

Without any extra state approval, doctors who currently prescribe opioids like Oxycontin and Vicodin will be able to certify their patients to purchase marijuana. This establishes a direct path that makes the registration process easier for patients. Before this system can be put in place, dispensaries need upgraded operating systems that include patient registration.

Patients seeking marijuana for any of the 40 qualifying conditions aside from pain will no longer have to submit background checks or fingerprinting. Additionally, they can receive provisional approval for access to the drug immediately while their application is processed by the state.

While these changes are progressive and will significantly increase access to marijuana, Gov. Rauner says he does not support full legalization. He remains resistant to the further expansion of the state's medical marijuana program and has said he will not support recreational use.

J.B. Pritzker, Rauner's Democratic opponent for governor of Illinois, endorses legal marijuana for recreational use.

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