ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The state is on the brink of a massive medical marijuana expansion. Lawmakers passed a plan to give patients who use opioids access to marijuana prescriptions instead.
Right now, only about 30,000 people can legally get medical marijuana in the state. It’s largely because of a strict list of 40-eligible conditions.
Industry insiders say, with this law, clientele could double or even triple. One former addict is anxious to sign up.
“I don’t use no more, but if I had the choice, if medical marijuana was legal, I’d much rather be on that.”
Former opioid addict, Alexis Meyer, is hoping she’ll be one of the thousands eligible for medical marijuana by the new year. She’s in recovery now, but like many, her addiction started with prescription drugs.
“I have seven felonies on my record and every single one of them is because of my addiction.”
She believes a new state plan giving opioid patient access to medical marijuana will save many from a life of crime and despair; even death.
“Medical marijuana, in my opinion, is the best way to go. A lot of it’s mental. It helps you think about not getting your opioid.”
It’s the reason why the expansion passed with broad bipartisan support in the Capitol. Many lawmakers hope it can key to fighting the state’s growing opioid epidemic.
With Governor Bruce Rauner’s blessing, next year, instead of prescribing opioids, doctors would be able to ask patients if they’d rather get cannabis.
“This is a huge step for treatment options and pain relief options. It’s not disputable anymore that opioids are a major problem.”
Chris McCloud heads a dispensary in Springfield. He finally says he’ll be able to help those suffering, but it’s not a free-for-all.
“If you try to defraud the system, you will be banned for life and you will not get, you will never be able to access cannabis, so we think that’s a big deterrent.”
There’s just one last hurdle to get over. The governor’s desk. He hasn’t given any indication where he stands on the specific plan, but in the past, he’s opposed the idea of expanding medical marijuana.
Those in the industry say, given the support, they’re remaining optimistic.
It’s not just an expansion. The new plan cuts out barriers. Patients who need medical marijuana won’t need a criminal background check or have to provide fingerprints.