Senate Bill 336 was signed today by Governor Rauner, making the Alternative to Opioids Act law in Illinois. The new law allows individuals who are prescribed an opiate medication to use medical cannabis as an alternative.
The Governor announced his approval of the measure at the Chicago Recovery Alliance, an outreach center dedicated to individuals affected by opioid addiction and HIV. The center has recently grown into one of the largest drug abuse outreach-programs in the country, thanks to its revolutionary “take home” Naloxone program.
“This is a great step in the right direction. I’m pleased to see an alternative for pain management that doesn’t have any potential for a fatal overdose,” said Suzanne Carlberg-Rachich, director of research for the CRA.
The bill was introduced by State Sen. Don Harmon in response to the states growing opioid crisis, which took the lives of nearly 2,000 residents in 2016.
“Opioid addiction takes the lives of thousands of Illinoisans every year. We should be open to any reasonable alternative treatment – and no one has ever died of a cannabis overdose,” said Harmon in a recent press release.
The Alternative to Opioids Act also strips the fingerprinting for background check requirement for all medical cannabis program enrollees and creates a “provisional medical cannabis license” which addresses the current 90 day back-log in applications by allowing individuals who have submitted a complete application to visit a dispensary, so-long as they have a certified referral by an approved doctor.
The passage of SB 336 marks a step forward for the Illinois medical cannabis program, and a step forward to addressing the opioid crisis in the Prairie State.