How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois
Article reviewed by James Samuel, MD.
The U.S. now has dozens of states that have legalized cannabis for patients with a medical marijuana card. Illinois legalized medical cannabis in 2013, and it took years for the program to provide patients with access to treatment.
It wasn’t for another full year – in 2014 – that Illinois even began accepting applications for growers and sellers. However, now that the state has also legalized cannabis for adult-use, there are still plenty of benefits for people in the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about getting a medical marijuana card in Illinois. Find out who qualifies, and the best places to find medical cannabis near you. Or set up a telemedicine appointment if you’re ready to obtain relief TODAY.
Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program
The Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program is part of the state’s focus on fighting opioid abuse. The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program is the most recent iteration to Illinois’ medical marijuana program. Public Act 100-1114 establishes several changes to make it easier for patients to register for a medical marijuana card.
Since August 28th, 2018, there’s no longer a background check or fingerprint requirement for those registering to the Medical Cannabis Registry as a patient or caregiver.
How to Qualify for the Medical Cannabis Program in Illinois
To qualify for the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry, you must meet several requirements, although harsher restrictions to prospective patients existed prior to the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.
For example, prior to the exemption from background checks and fingerprints, you were not allowed to have any criminal offenses or convictions.
So, if you had a felony conviction under the Controlled Substances Act, the Cannabis Control Act, or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, you’d be unable to get a medical marijuana card in Illinois.
But not anymore. The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program also gives those struggling with opioid addiction and many others access to medical cannabis treatment.
To qualify for registration as a patient or caregiver, you must be at least 18 years old (minors need two physician recommendations as well as consent from their legal guardian).
You cannot hold a permit to drive a school bus or Commercial Driver’s License if you’re applying for a medical marijuana card. If you are a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or correctional officer, you cannot get a card.
Beyond that, to obtain a medical marijuana card in Illinois, you must have a qualifying debilitating condition as approved by the Illinois Department of Health.
Qualifying Debilitating Conditions
To validate your condition, you need a doctor’s diagnosis. Some of the qualifying conditions for Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Pilot Program include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- AIDS / HIV
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Arnold-Chiari malformation
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- CHRONIC PAIN
- Complex regional syndrome Type II (CRPS)
- Epilepsy seizures
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Polycystic Kidney Disease
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Spinal cord disease
- Tourette syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Wasting syndrome
For a full list of qualifying conditions, check out our Illinois page.
How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois
If you’re diagnosed with any of the debilitating conditions above, you are eligible to apply for a card and can schedule an appointment or give Compassionate Clinics of America a call to get certified.
To successfully gain approval for a medical marijuana card in Illinois, there are a few steps you need to complete. You need a physician’s recommendation as well as all the same documentation you need to rent an apartment. Both of which with we can help.
Be sure to gather all of the necessary submission requirements and documents prior to submitting your application. All of your documents must arrive at the state office within 90 days.
Compassionate Clinics of America can help you with all the required steps:
Meet with a Physician
Getting a physician’s consent is the mandatory first step for getting approved for a medical marijuana card in Illinois. You can meet with one of our physicians via telemedicine at your convenience.
Your Physician Submits a Written Certification Form
Our consenting physician will complete a Written Certification Form and mail it to the Medical Cannabis Division of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Applicants showing up in-person will not be received. The address is:
Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Medical Cannabis
535 W. Jefferson Street
Springfield, IL 62761
The form must be received by the public health office within 90 days of your application. And the doctor’s recommendation must show an in-person visit within the last 90 days.
Prepare the Required Documents and Fees
In addition to the application, new registering patients must include an application fee. You have a choice of paying for a one, two, or three-year ID card.
Qualifying patients must pay a non-refundable $100, $200, or $250 fee for a one, two, or three-year ID card, respectively. The application fee for patients on Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income reduces to $50, $100, or $125.
If you’re applying for a caregiver’s ID card, the fee is $25 for one year, $50 for two years, or $75 for three years.
Your application must include a photograph that is taken within the past 30 days. The picture must be two inches by two inches and taken against a white background. Your face must directly point towards the camera and be void of facial inflection.
A color photocopy of an Illinois State driver’s license or State ID card must accompany your application. A photocopy of a passport ID page is also acceptable. You must also submit proof of Illinois residency.
For online applicants, make a PDF and JPEG file for each document photo. The online platform allows you to upload the documents as part of your application.
Submit Your Application
Thanks to the new law, you can apply online for a medical marijuana card in Illinois.
To register online, you need a certification from one of our doctors and all of the documentation listed above. Once you submit your online application, you’ll immediately receive a temporary receipt. We can help you with these steps at no additional cost.
Getting to Know Your Medical Cannabis Card
As soon as you submit your online application and print off your temporary receipt, you’re a card-carrying Illinois medical marijuana patient.
While your application is being processed, you can make use of temporary receipt at any local dispensary in the absence of your medical marijuana card.
Your permanent card looks a lot like a driver’s license, but with some different information. The top of your card says, “Illinois Department of Public Health Medical Cannabis Registered Qualifying Patient.” On the left side of the card is your headshot – just like a driver’s license.
To the right side of your picture is identification information regarding your account. The first piece of information on your card is your name and patient ID number. If you have a caregiver, their name and ID number follow.
Underneath the patient and caregiver information is your address and date of birth. At the bottom of your card is the issue date of your ID card as well as the expiration date. The expiration date will coincide with the expiration date on your caregiver’s card.
In Illinois, you’re only able to purchase medical cannabis products from the dispensary you specify on your application. The dispensary will only admit you with your approved patient ID card or temporary receipt.
Going to a Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Your medical dispensary experience is very different from a recreational dispensary. Medical dispensaries in Illinois are run by medical professionals and licensed by the Illinois State Department of Health.
Be sure to choose the right dispensary for you when you complete the application. In Illinois, you can only purchase medical cannabis products from your approved dispensary.
If you want to change your dispensary, you must complete a Medical Cannabis Selection Form and wait until you receive confirmation that the change has been processed.
Dispensaries in Illinois are mostly located in the Chicagoland area. There are 55+ registered medical dispensaries state-wide and 21 cultivation centers. Unfortunately, even though a cultivation center might be much closer than a dispensary, patients cannot purchase the product directly from growers.
Each medical marijuana dispensary is licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Cultivation facilities are permitted by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
What’s Next for Cannabis in Illinois?
Adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois began on January 1, 2020. In September 2020, the state shattered yet another record with total cannabis sales reaching $67.6 million.
Although the state’s cannabis market is still developing and maturing, medical patients have a legal priority when cannabis supplies run short in the state. If you need cannabis for medical purposes, there are other very important differences when considering the benefits of recreational versus medical cannabis purchases.
At the moment, Illinois is extremely restrictive in how the state grants licenses to use, sell, or cultivate marijuana. Cannabis products are tracked from clone-to-sale along with every step of the way.
Newly appointed governor J.B. Pritzker has had a much more progressive stance towards marijuana than his predecessor, Bruce Rauner, which is a big reason why the state is now enjoying legal cannabis.
Get Your Card The Easy Way With Compassionate Clinics Of America
The benefits of becoming a medical cannabis patient in Illinois are important. If you or a loved one needs medical cannabis attention, let Compassionate Clinics of America do the heavy lifting for you.
Our team will handle the entire process on your behalf so you can focus on your health and loved ones. With our new telemedicine services, you don’t even have to leave your house.
And we’re here to guide you after you get your card as well.
The medical cannabis program in Illinois is still in its early days, and access to dispensaries is limited for most residents. If you live in or around Chicago, you have a good selection of dispensaries to choose from.
Now that leadership is in different hands for the state, the medical cannabis program will swiftly work to widen its reach and provide access to more patients.
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