Illinois to Add PTSD & Terminal Illnesses to Medical Marijuana Program

Memorial Day represented a major victory for Illinois’ veterans as the state House, as expected, voted 86-27 to expand the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions to include PTSD and terminal illnesses.

The measure also extends Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program to 2020. The program was set to expire at the end of 2017 and secures the industry’s next four years.

The measure now moves to the Senate and then Governor Rauner’s desk, and both parties are expected to approve the change and make the moves official. Perhaps spurred by community pressure to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, Governor Rauner changed his previously tepid stance on expansion late last week when he and lawmakers made some necessary compromises to finalize these now imminent changes.

Another major change in the state’s process will no longer require doctors to “recommend” medical marijuana for patients. Instead, doctors can signify that patients have a qualifying condition that needs treatment. This change gives security knowing their medical licenses won’t be at risk.

Moreover, patients’ medical recommendations will now last three years (opposed to the previous one). Additionally, minors may be permitted two caregivers instead of the previous one.

The additions of PTSD and terminal illnesses should stimulate the Illinois medical marijuana program’s growth and aid an important sector of patients. Those patients with terminal illnesses will have an expedited approval time of two weeks opposed to the standard six-seven week timeframe.

Medical marijuana for veterans recently secured federal support as Congress recently voted to allow VA’s to prescribe medical marijuana. Illinois’ expansion aligns itself with this new federal stance while recognizing that PTSD is one of the illnesses that medical marijuana can truly heal.

By the time Illinois’ pilot program becomes a permanent program or expires in 2020, the state could have a legal, retail cannabis market of its own.

Posted In: News

Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Program Sees February Growth

The AP reports that Illinois’ medical marijuana sales reached nearly $1.5 million in January sales, up from the $1.2 million number achieved in January.

The cause of this noticeable rise in sales is twofold: more patients and one more dispensary. The state served 3,042 patients in February, up from January’s 2,774 patients, indicating that the program’s members are becoming more comfortable with this modern form of medicine.

Moreover, the state added another dispensary to the mix, raising the total of medical marijuana clinics in Illinois to 29. That one dispensary could very well be responsible for the nearly 300 person increase in patients.

Additionally, the state sold saw a major increase in edibles and concentrate sales, as that number rose from $132,000 in January to $362,000 in February. Clearly, patients have become confident in consuming cannabis in these different, edible and hash forms.

Likewise, because of the increased sales, tax dollars collected from the sales rose from $66,000 in January to $83,000 in February. While it’s mostly good news for Illinois, the state has one mild head-scratcher: of the total 4,800 registered patients in Illinois, only 3,042 purchased medical marijuana in February.

That number means 1,508 patients who qualify for the program and are not yet utilizing the program’s medical benefits. Perhaps some of these patients live an inconvenient distance from the 29 dispensaries and will benefit when one opens closer to them.

Illinois’ nascent medical marijuana program began serving patients on November 9, 2015, and has now reached $4.4 million in total sales with the average price of a gram checking in at $14. As more dispensaries open and the industry matures, expect all of these sales numbers to continue a steady ascent.

 

Posted In: Cannabis Industry