Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Program Is Now Expanded And Permanent

Illinois’ medical marijuana program is getting a second wind

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a pair of bills on Monday expanding who can get a medical card, and when they can use it.

The program was initially limited to just six years, but is now permanent. When the law was first signed in 2013, state lawmakers made it a “pilot,” in order to test the concept and work out any bugs. But now that recreational marijuana will be legal in January, sponsors say it makes sense to permanently allow medical sales too.

State Senator Laura Fine, a Glenview Democrat, is one of them. Her husband had his arm amputated, and manages his pain with medical cannabis.

​“He doesn’t have to hide in the basement on a day when he’s in pain” she explained. “He can be acting with our children, going about his daily life, and not having the severe pain that he usually suffers.”

People who suffer from any one of at least 11 new conditions now qualify for a medical card. Though Illinois is ramping up licensing and regulation efforts ahead of recreational weed’s legal debut in January, Rep. Bob Morgan (D, Deerfield) stressed the state is keeping medical cardholders in mind.

“Patients can rest assured: the medical cannabis program and patients will remain a priority for all of us,” he said. “We will not turn our backs on the patient population, even as legalization dominates the news in 2020.”

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