Now that all the dust has settled, it has become clear as to how the passage of Illinois Senate Bill 10 has affected the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP). SB 10 extended the MCPP until July, 2020, and made some very important, positive changes.
For those of you who are renewing your medical cannabis cards that expire in October, the following information is pertinent to you:
1. No fingerprinting nor doctor re-certification will be required if the renewal is completed before the card expires.
2. You’ll need to renew for the remaining 2 years, now that renewal is once every 3 years. Your renewal information will be sent by mail near the end of August.
3. The fee is $200 for 2 years
4. You are receiving SSDI or are a Veteran receiving care through a VA facility; the fee is $100 for 2 years.
5. The fee for caregivers is $50 for 2 years.
Please note: Those who received cards on or before July 31, 2016, will be renewing for the two-year renewals.
For those patients applying for a medical cannabis card for the first time, as of August 1, 2016, the following information is pertinent to you…and Welcome to the program!
1. Newly issued cards will be eligible for 3 years rather than yearly. Unfortunately, there is no option to renew for 1-2 years.
2. The fee will be $300 for 3 years. While this may seem like an increase, it is the same as it was last year when the yearly fee was $100.
3. Fingerprinting ONLY needs to be done upon submission of the application, not every year. This represents a savings of $55 a year to the patient for each of the two years.
4. The reduced fee of $150 for 3 years is offered to those on SSI, SSDI or Veterans
a. Those on SSI/SSDI are required to attach a statement of benefits to prove your SSI/SSDI status
b. Veterans are required to attach a copy of your DD214, showing your date and character of service. Here’s a tip from a fellow Veteran. Apply online and use the .pdf version of your records via myhealthevet.gov
5. The caregiver fee will remain the same at $75, but will be good for 3 years.
Those who are current patients are aware of how resistant many Illinois doctors have been to recommending medical cannabis for them. One of the biggest and most progressive changes in the program now requires that doctors simply certify their relationship with a patient and verify their qualifying condition. This should greatly increase patient numbers which will help the program by guaranteeing its continued success and reducing the cost of medicine in the long run. This aspect is unique to the Illinois medical cannabis program. No other states with medicinal cannabis programs offer this type of certification.
6. Terminally Ill patients, with a life expectancy of 6 months or less, are not required to be fingerprinted, your application fee is waived and the processing of your application is expedited. Your cards are valid for 6 months. Be sure to designate a caregiver when you apply. Here is the link to your application:
7. Fingerprinting is required and usually costs around $60. Some dispensaries apply the charge of fingerprinting towards your first purchase. Midwest Compassion Center provides fingerprinting at some of our events and we often pick up the cost. To find fingerprinting locations in Illinois, here is the link: https://www.idfpr.com/licenselookup/fingerprintlist.asp
8. Your first order of business is to get your physician to sign the physician’s form. Without that signature, you will be denied a medical cannabis card. Bring the form with you when you see your doctor. Here’s the link: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/forms/Medical-Cannabis-Physician-Written-Certification-032715-040616.pdf
a. If you are seeing a new doctor, be sure to bring your medical records within the past year, showing treatment and/or diagnosis of your qualifying condition.
The number of qualifying conditions has increased by 2 from 39 to 41;
1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) of all types, not limited to military
2. Terminal Illness where the patient is given a life expectancy of 6 months or less.
Other changes include:
Allowing minor children patients to have 2 caregivers instead of 1.
The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board (MCAB) will also be reconstituted. As a result of this change, the new annual petition period will be January 1 – 31st. Those petitioners will no longer present their cases before the MCAB board. They will be reviewed by Dr. Nirav Shah, the Director of Public Health, who will make the decision.
If you wish to petition for a new qualifying condition, here is the link to the application: http://www.idph.state.il.us/rulesregs/2016_Rules/77-IAC-946-080316.pdf
Illinois patients will be happy to know that although the Illinois MCPP is one of the most regulated in the country, it is rated #4 in the 10 top-rated programs. Illinois is credited with “adopting some of the best product safety regulations in the country.” It received a grade of B+.