Did you know medical marijuana has technically been legal in Illinois since 1978? In that year, the Illinois government passed the Cannabis Control Act, giving physicians in Illinois the authority to recommend medical marijuana, but only for “glaucoma, the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy in cancer patients or such other procedure[s] certified to be medically necessary,” as the law directly reads. The Cannabis Control Act also required written approval from the Illinois State Police. No new policies or procedures materialized from this law, but the Compassionate Use Act was passed in August 2013 to officially give Illinois residents official access to medical cannabis.
Illinois also legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2020, but there are still plenty of benefits for registered patients in the Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Program (MCPP). Medical marijuana patients pay a 1% sales tax rate, compared to recreational customers who can pay an over 30% tax rate in some cases, depending on what they purchase.
You must be 18 years or older to apply for a medical marijuana card, but pediatric patients with qualifying conditions can apply with both parental and physician’s consent. Medical marijuana patients in Illinois can cultivate cannabis at home, which is still prohibited for recreational consumers.
Quick Guide to Getting Your Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois
See If You’re Eligible
Illinois has a list of qualifying conditions that are eligible for medical marijuana cards. Check the full list down below.
Get a Doctor’s Recommendation
You must get a licensed healthcare provider’s recommendation to apply for a medical marijuana card in Illinois.
Apply For Your Medical Marijuana Card
The Illinois Department of Public Health processes all patient and caregiver applications. You must submit an application online or through the mail to receive your medical marijuana card.
Am I Eligible for a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois?
You must have a qualifying health condition before getting your medical marijuana card in Illinois. Here is the full list of qualifying conditions:
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Anorexia nervosa
- Arnold-Chiari malformation
- Cachexia/wasting syndrome
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Chronic pain
- Crohn’s disease
- CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Fibrous Dysplasia
- Hepatitis C
- Interstitial cystitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Nail-patella syndrome
- Neuro-Bechet’s autoimmune disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
- Post-Concussion Syndrome
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Residual limb pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Seizures (including those characteristic of Epilepsy)
- Severe fibromyalgia
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
- Spinal cord injury is damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- Spinocerebellar ataxia
- Superior canal dehiscence syndrome
- Tarlov cysts
- Tourette syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ulcerative colitis
If you have one of the above conditions, you might benefit from medical cannabis.
Getting a Doctor’s Recommendation for a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois
According to the Compassionate Use Act, a certifying health professional must recommend your medical marijuana card. “Certifying health care professional” means a physician, an advanced practice registered nurse, or a physician assistant.
Your physician should be educated about medical marijuana, and able to help you understand any potential interactions between medical marijuana and other medications you may be taking. Tell your doctor any prescription medications you are currently taking, as well as additional health problems outside of the condition you’re seeking medical cannabis for.
Apply for Your Medical Marijuana Card
You must apply for a medical marijuana card through the Illinois Department of Public Health after receiving a physician’s recommendation. This is the final step before you can purchase medical cannabis from a dispensary. Applicants will need to make an account and submit their application here.
Patients can choose a 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year medical marijuana card. A 1-year card is $50, a 2-year card is $100, and a 3-year card is $125. You can choose to apply with or without a caregiver, and the fees will vary depending on what you choose. A breakdown of the fees can be found here. You are eligible to reduce 50% of your application costs if you are a veteran or receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
No paper documents are accepted. All processes must be completed online. If you need help applying for your medical marijuana card, you can get free assistance through participating local health departments in Illinois.
The online application is case sensitive. Any typos, including those in your Social Security number, address, birth name, or otherwise will prevent your application from being approved. Make sure both you and your physician enter each piece of information without errors to avoid delaying your approval. Read our blog post to learn the most common mistakes people make when applying for medical marijuana cards, and how you can avoid them.
Find a Cannabis Physician in Illinois
Heally’s network of online and in-person doctors provides Illinois residents with holistic physicians and healthcare professionals. If you’re interested in getting your medical marijuana card, fill out our new patient form here and we will be in touch.