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Illinois Governor Makes Medical Marijuana Program Permanent

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has approved legislation that expands and makes permanent the state's medical cannabis program.

Illinois' medical cannabis law was set to expire next year. It was signed into law by former Governor Pat Quinn in 2013 as a pilot program.

In June this year, Illinois became the eleventh U.S. state to legalize marijuana for adult use. Illinois's marijuana legalization law will allow recreational possession and sales of marijuana starting on January 1, 2020. The law will also create a new system of taxes and regulations.

Illinois is the first state to legalize retail sales through its legislature, as opposed to a ballot measure. Illinois previously allowed marijuana for medical purposes.

Last Friday, Governor Pritzker approved legislation making permanent the state's medical marijuana program and adding a list of eleven new qualifying conditions for eligibility purposes.

Medical conditions that now qualify for the medical cannabis program in Illinois include autism, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoarthritis, anorexia nervosa, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Neuro-Behcet's Autoimmune Disease, neuropathy, polycystic kidney disease and superior canal dehiscence syndrome. The eleven new conditions join the existing 41 qualifying medical conditions.

Instead of solely physicians, advance practice registered nurses and physician assistants can now join physicians in diagnosing and certifying a patient's eligibility for the medical cannabis program. The law took effect on Friday, August 9, 2019.

Pritzker signed another bill into law that allows school nurses or administrators to administer medical cannabis products to students who are registered patients in the medical cannabis program. The bill also allows students to self-administer under the direct supervision of a school nurse or school administrator.

Students will be permitted to use medical cannabis products at school-sponsored activities or before or after normal school activities. The law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

As of July 31, 80,035 patients in Illinois were approved for the medical pilot program since it started accepting applications in 2014.

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