Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Welcomes More Patients

On Dec. 2, 2015, the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health has approved applications for a total of 3,600 qualifying patients.

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program made its first announcement regarding approved applications on Dec. 4, 2014, indicating that the IDPH had approved 600 qualifying patients.

Prior to the announcement on Dec. 2, a Nov. 4 announcement indicated that the IDPH had approved applications for 3,300 qualifying patients, meaning the program has taken a little under a month to approve an additional 300 patients.

Based upon previous numbers released from the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, the program seems to approve qualifying patients in monthly batches of 100-300 individuals; however, from Feb. 4 to April 1, the IDPH had approved an additional 1,000 patients.

The state’s program has encountered several delays. “The delays have significantly plagued this program. It’s caused the cultivars as well as the dispensary owners to really burn through capital even without having any income coming in,” said Phil DeVries, Founder and CEO of Thera Integrative Healthcare, a full-service clinical provider of traditional and alternative healthcare services for medical cannabis patients.

“Although it’s off to a slow start, I think with the [39] debilitating conditions that are out there that there is a significant patient base,” DeVries said.

Registered patients in Illinois didn’t have access to legal medical marijuana until Nov. 9, 2015, when the state’s dispensaries opened; however, in the first week of sales, legal dispensaries sold approximately $211,000 worth of cannabis, equating to roughly 460 ounces of marijuana.

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, but the legislation that enacted the program contains a “sunset” provision stipulating that the program end on Dec. 31, 2017, unless it is renewed by the legislature.

“I think that they will extend the program, they’ll extend the medical conditions,” DeVries added.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board has recommended adding eight more illnesses to the state’s list of qualifying conditions. Nirav D. Shah, director of the IDPH, must approve the recommendations made by the advisory board in order for the IDPH to draft rules to add the qualifying conditions and diseases.

As previously reported in MJINews, “experts have estimated that it will take approximately 100,000 medical marijuana patients to sustain the program.”

Residents of Illinois with one of the 39 qualifying conditions or diseases listed in the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act can visit the IDPH’s medical cannabis page to begin the patient application process.


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