Illinois Senate Looks To Marijuana As Opioid Alternative

Apr 27, 2018

Credit Andrew Villegas/WFYI

A proposal to allow the temporary use of cannabis instead of opioids for pain management was approved by the Illinois Senate Thursday.

Under the measure patients could get immediate access to cannabis – skipping the usual step most take to apply for a medical marijuana card. With the current Medical Cannabis Program, a patient’s medical condition must fall under one of 41 conditions covered.

State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) says his plan addresses issues of opioid abuse and addiction.

“It would provide access to the Medical Cannabis Program,” Harmon said. “It allows an alternative that keeps people from getting strung out, and spiraling down.”

A doctor would be able to temporarily certify a patient for marijuana use instead of prescribing opioids.  

Chris McCloud is with HCI alternatives, a medical cannabis dispensary. He says this legislative approach is a unique plan addressing the problem of opioid addiction.

“It’s very innovative legislation that has not been attempted in another state,” McCloud said. “Obviously Illinois is in the same boat with many other states in dealing with the opioid crisis. And all states are grappling with how to tackle the issue.”

The measure received bipartisan support in the Senate and is expected to be considered in the House in coming weeks. ​​