The Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018 is now law in Illinois, adding those who might otherwise seek opioids for pain management to the list of those eligible for medical marijuana.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 336 on Tuesday.
“This law will give thousands of Illinoisans who struggle with the negative side effects of opioids, including harmful addiction, another choice to manage their pain,” he said. “This is not about personal opinions about cannabis. It’s about giving people more control over their own health care and pain-relief options.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health reports opioid deaths in Illinois increased 13 percent from 2016 to 2017. Meanwhile, the Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that states with medical marijuana dispensaries have seen a 14.4 percent decrease in the use of prescription opioids.
The new law puts in place a pilot program that will not compromise patient safety or diminish medical marijuana program standards, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Licensed physicians must certify an individual has a medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed. Participants must register at a licensed dispensary. The program is limited to individuals 21 and older. Dispensations are limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days and cannot exceed 90 days per physician certification.
The Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018 also allows those applying for a medical cannabis registry card for one of the qualified conditions to access medical cannabis while their application is being reviewed.
“Dealing with the opioid crisis in Illinois is a top priority for this administration, and it is one that requires innovative solutions,” Rauner said before the bill signing at Chicago Recovery Alliance on Tuesday. “This law will help people avoid opioid addiction and that will save lives.”
“Opioids can be highly addictive in a very short period of time,” said IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah. “Because the number of opioid deaths continues to rise in Illinois, although at a much slower pace, we understand a person’s hesitancy in filling an opioid prescription. The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program will offer people another option in managing pain.”
The Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018 is effective immediately.
SOURCE: state of Illinois news release