Illinois governor signs bill to allow medical marijuana as opioid alternative

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Tuesday allowing the use of medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids – a development that could eventually generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional MMJ sales.

Marijuana Business Daily estimates the move could add tens of thousands of new patients to a program that has roughly 42,000 currently registered.

Illinois has been a highly restrictive MMJ market. But the Marijuana Policy Project noted some key provisions of the legislation that will ease restrictions, including:

Qualifying patients will receive provisional registration allowing them to purchase medical marijuana for 90 days while their application is being processed (or until it is denied).
Criminal background checks and fingerprint requirements will be eliminated for all participants/applicants in the existing MMJ program and the new Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.

Industry advocates weren’t confident that Rauner, a Republican, would sign the measure, which passed in June. But political pressure has built as the governor’s Democratic challenger in November, J.B. Pritzker, a proponent of legalizing adult-use marijuana, has opened a double-digit lead, according to some polls.

Sean Doyle