Illinois to Extend, Expand Medical Marijuana Program

State lawmakers from both parties in Illinois have agreed to extend Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program to July 2020, and expanded the list of qualifying conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness.

Lawmakers must still take a formal vote on the measure, but are expected to approve it, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Doctors also will no longer have to “recommend” cannabis, but just certify that there is a bona fide relationship with the patient, and that the patient has one of the program’s roughly 40 qualifying conditions. That nod to discretion is meant to alleviate apprehensions physicians may have about recommending medical cannabis to patients.

Patient and caregivers will no longer have to renew their authorization cards every year. Instead, they need to do so every three years. Patients renewing their cards will no longer have to undergo fingerprinting for criminal background checks, although that remains a requirement for first-time card applicants.