Patients requiring opioid medications to treat some of their ailments now have another option in Illinois – medical marijuana. The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program started on February 1. Opioids come along with risk for addiction and a long list of side effects.
Former Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Alternatives to Opioids Act into law in August 2018, The Chicago Sun Times reported. Senator Don Harmon sponsored the legislation in hopes that it would help the state with its ongoing opioid crisis. The National Safety Council analyzed data from 2017 indicating that there was a higher risk of dying from an opioid overdose surpassed the risk of dying from an auto accident.
It’s said that 68% of 2017’s overdose deaths (70,200), involved opioids.
Senator Harmon said via press conference that, “We just heard stories about people who got strung out and couldn’t get off of [opioids]. So, what we wanted to do was get people an exit ramp from that temporary opioid use and give them a way to manage their pain and their condition going forward. No one’s overdosed on cannabis.”
To become certified for medical marijuana when a patient is prescribed opioids, a doctor must certify the condition. Patients can register for the program once the doctor has entered the certification into the state’s system. Patients pay a $10 fee at aor local health department while providing proof of identity and Illinois residency.
The certifications are good for 90 days, but renewals are permitted.
On the first day of enrollment, 35 patients started the process with four completing the entire process. Some are still awaiting a proper physician certification.