Rauner Signs Bill Permitting Medicinal Cannabis As Opioid Alternative

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner [R] signed SB336 into law on Tuesday, August 28 giving patients the option to choose medicinal cannabis over opioids.

The signing marks the third cannabis bill that Rauner has approved this month. The governor signed a bill on August 1 to allow children to take medicinal cannabis at school, and another on the 25th to legalize industrial hemp.

But with Rauner’s endorsement of SB336, patients across the state will be offered a proven safer option to drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin in the form of medical marijuana. More than 2,000 people in Illinois died from opioid overdoses in 2017.

“Opioid abuse disorder is taking the lives of Illinoisans, thousands of lives,” said Rauner during the signing. “Opioid abuse disorder is disrupting and destroying families across our state and across the country. We’ve got to do everything we can to stop this vicious epidemic, and today, I’m proud to sign a bill that helps us stop this epidemic.”

The Illinois medical marijuana program currently has a list of 41 debilitating conditions which can qualify a patient to use cannabis, but SB336 establishes a pilot program that allows physicians to certify patients who are over the age of 21 and are eligible for an opioid prescription.

“It’s clear that medical cannabis treats pain effectively and is less addictive and less disruptive than opioids. Creating that option is an important step forward to improve health quality,” said Rauner. “It’s clear that medical marijuana treats pain more effectively, it’s very possible that there could be more additions in the horizon.”

As part of the new law, the fingerprinting process and background check will be eliminated from the application process. Those applying for a medicinal cannabis license will also be allowed access while their application is under review.