Former Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018, into law on August 28, 2018. It supersedes the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP) Act. Several positive changes were made to the MCPP, including the addition of the OAPP. The emergency rules of the bill mandated that the changes take effect on December 1, 2018. Unfortunately, that date came and went with no indication when the new law would go into effect. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) just publicly announced the end of January, 2019 as the likely start time for the updated program.
The reason for the delay, as explained by the IDPH, was due to the necessity of creating a new registration and tracking system that would be compatible with the current system which was no easy task. The entire process, including generating ID cards for both the MCPP and OAPP, will be done electronically. The goal is to streamline the process so that patients receive their cards within minutes rather than having to wait for months.
Current and prospective patients will want to be aware of the following changes:
- Fingerprinting and background checks are no longer required for the application process
- No business or person may charge prospective patients for help filling out applications
- Prospective patients with previous felony, drug or domestic violence convictions are no longer excluded from either program
- Implementation of the OAPP, which would allow a treating physician to refer any Illinois resident to the OAPP for any condition where an opioid might otherwise be prescribed
- Patients will be granted almost immediate access to a licensed dispensary if their application was generated electronically with the required physician certification. MCPP patients will receive a temporary ID electronically while OAPP patients will receive their actual ID electronically.
Requirements For OAPP Applicants
Prospective patients must see a physician with whom they have established a bona fide relationship. All participating physicians are required to register with the state in order to qualify for the program. An electronic PIN number is required for the electronic submission of the requisite paperwork by your physician.
Using the online application system, prospective patients must supply the following information:
- Name and address
- Passport type photograph
- State issued ID
- Proof of residency that matches your ID address (bill or statement)
- Physician’s certification
- Your dispensary choice (to which you are bound for 90 days.) You must reapply every 90 days at which point you can switch dispensaries
- $10 electronic payment sent to the State of Illinois
- A current email address through which you will receive your paper patient ID. No plastic cards are available for OAPP participants
After you apply, your information will be matched with your physician’s certification. You will immediately receive your patient ID via email with which you will able to purchase product from a dispensary.
Patient product limit is 2.5 ounces every 14 days with no possibility of an increase. Concentrate and edible purchases will be subtracted from the above mentioned limit.
For New MCPP Applicants
- Once all your documents have been uploaded to the website, you will immediately receive a “provisional” license which gives you access to a licensed dispensary
- Your documentation must match that of your physician’s in order for a temporary patient card to be generated for you
You cannot be enrolled in both the MCPP and OAPP at the same time. However, OAPP participants can enroll at any time in the MCPP, if they qualify, which then cancels their participation in the OAPP. When deciding which program to enroll in, be aware of the following:
- Patients who qualify for the OAPP are required to be evaluated by their physician every 90 days in order to renew the OAPP registry
- Once you have chosen a dispensary, you may not switch during each 90 day period in which you are enrolled. You may switch dispensaries when you re-enroll
- There is no provision for a designated caregiver
- There is no option to increase your monthly allotment of 2.5 oz every 14 days
The new legislation has not amended the sunset date of July 1, 2020 for the program. The Illinois legislature has the power to amend the law and extend the program. Now that JB Pritzker has become governor of Illinois, the expectation is that the program will be extended past July 1, 2020. There is no provision in the bill that allows patients to be reimbursed by their insurance companies for their medical cannabis expenditures.
The IDPH has instructed patients to periodically check their website www.dph.illinois.gov or the MCPP website www.mcpp.illinois.gov for updates. They have hired temporary staff to deal with the anticipated increase of applicants.
As of this writing, I was not able to find a list of participating doctors who have signed up for the registry. I hope this information will soon be available to patients as finding doctors who are willing to sign certifications has been an ongoing problem since the MCPP began in 2015. Please comment below if you can provide a link to the list of participating doctors.
If you are interested in signing up for this program visit us at https://www.midwestcompassion.org/illinois-opioid-program/
Source: thedispensaryfulton.com, All About the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program and Changes to the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, January 8, 2019
wquad.com, Illinois Opioid Alternative Program Soon To Accept Marijuana Applications, IDPH Says, January 10, 2019, Travis Meier