Illinois medical marijuana sales climb as program grows

Illinois officials posted new forms this week for doctors and patients in the state's medical marijuana program to reflect changes in the law, and announced Wednesday that July retail sales reached a new high at $2.9 million.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation last month extending the pilot program until July 2020 and adding two qualifying health conditions—post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses. Those changes are expected to further drive growth in the program, but won't be reflected in retail sales until next month.

The Illinois Department of Public Health posted updated information on its website Tuesday, including a new form allowing physicians to certify a patient's diagnosis without the added requirement of recommending marijuana as medicine. An updated patient application is available, as is new information on how who are terminally ill can apply for a card without a fee.

The department also posted updated information for current patients on renewing their marijuana cards and will mail renewal information to registered cardholders 90 days before their cards expire.

New patient identification cards will be valid for three years and cost $300; annual fees had been $100. Veterans and people qualifying for disability benefits can get a reduction in the fee to $150 for three years.

The three-year ID card allows patients to avoid yearly costs of doctor visits and fingerprints, Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Divya Little said. "It also allows IDPH to accommodate the increased volume of applications and the significant staff time required to process them," Little said.

But the increased fee pinches the pocketbook of many patients, suburban Chicago patient advocate and industry analyst Joel Erickson said.

"Patients are seeing these numbers and are scared about how they're going to pay for access," Erickson said. "That's a car or rent payment without any help from insurance. There needs to be alternatives for low or fixed-income patients to be able to afford access."

Sales of medical marijuana in Illinois have climbed steadily since purchasing began Nov. 9. In July, Illinois patients legally purchased $2.9 million worth of marijuana products, according to figures released Wednesday. June sales had been $2.57 million.

Illinois now has nearly 8,891 qualified medical marijuana patients and 40 registered dispensaries, according to the program's monthly update. July's figures bring the total of marijuana in Illinois to $16.3 million since the program launched.

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Online:

www.illinois.gov/gov/mcpp/Page … /update08032016.aspx


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Aug 04, 2016
I am an Illinois Medical Cannabis Program Registered Qualifying Patient, and on March 27th, 2016, I became the first person to be charged OUT OF STATE for possession of marijuana, in the State of Indiana, when I was honost and forthcoming about my medication due to a traffic stop for speeding. I was only carrying 2 grams, though they say six(and my purchase record shows I didnt even start our family vacation 10 days prior to that, so I couldnt have been in possession of 6!), and now I face a Class A misdemeaner, in court, because I have a prior conviction for misdemeaner possession in 1998! I am completely and severly disabled, for which there exists an overwhelming amount of data to support, and now this. Like I dont have enough to worry about. When I made the decision, with my Doctor, to try the program, I was not warned of, or prepaired for, this type of PUNISHMENT for simply using a medicine that has potential. No one will help me, either... Dont leave state with your MEDS!!!

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