Although about 8,000 people have started an application to use medical marijuana legally in Illinois, only 1,500 people have submitted accompanying documents, according to data released by the Department of Health Wednesday.
So far, about 230 patients have been approved, Department of Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.
The number of applicants is climbing every month, according to the monthly release of data.
Last month, 6,300 people had began the process, with 800 submitting the accompanying information.
Seriously ill Illinoisans who suffer from 37 specific conditions — including spinal cord diseases, Parkinson’s disease and lupus — must send in their application and must complete a fingerprint-based background check. The patient’s treating doctor must separately mail a recommendation form, certifying their patient would benefit from using medical marijuana.
The Illinois Department of Public Health began accepting applications on Nov. 1 from patients whose last names begin with “M” through “Z.” But it will continue accepting applications from patients whose last names begin with “A” through “L.” Patients should apply before the end of the year, according to state notices.
Registration cards will be issued for patients who are approved.
The Department of Health is seeking bidders to create those cards.
In the first round, the agency “did not receive an acceptable application” and issued a bid invitation again on Oct. 28, Arnold said. Bids are due Nov. 21.
State officials are still reviewing applications from those seeking to grow and sell the medical marijuana. The Illinois-grown product is expected to be available to patients next year.