IL: We Need To Reform Our Overly Bureaucratic And Pricey Medical Marijuana Law

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The current application is cumbersome, onerous and time-consuming. It requires submission of proof of residency, consent to a background check via a Livescan fingerprinting vendor and completion of several forms related to medical history, age, identity and more. The fingerprinting requirement is particularly difficult for patients suffering from serious medical conditions, and it appears to be unnecessary – no other state requires fingerprinting.

Once the application has been submitted – and this assumes that all portions of it have been correctly completed – it takes 30 to 45 days on average for the state to issue a patient’s card. If people can get an opioid prescription filled in a day, then why should they have to wait so long to get a medical cannabis card? While these delays may be the result of larger budgetary and human resource issues facing the state, it is our hope that some of the laws and rules that make the process so difficult can be changed.

Second, Illinois should consider adding medical conditions that affect large numbers of people. Chronic or severe pain afflicts over 100 million Americans, with total costs reaching as much as $635 billion per year – that includes health care costs and estimated loss of productivity – and is the most common qualifying condition for medical cannabis in other states. It has been reported that nearly two-thirds of registered cardholders in eight other states treat their chronic or severe pain with medical cannabis. Chronic or severe pain is currently not a qualifying condition in Illinois.

According to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Pain, “Expanding evidence indicates that herbal cannabis has analgesic effects in neuropathic and nonneuropathic pain….There are at least five high-quality randomized controlled clinical trials establishing analgesic efficacy of smoked cannabis.” Many chronic pain sufferers are turning to cannabis as an alternative treatment and a means to reduce their use of pharmaceutical painkillers. They find that a cannabis regiment is equally as effective as pharmaceuticals but with far fewer side effects.

Each applicant has to do a digital fingerprint scan service ($60+) to PROVE that they are not a drug felon (or other violent crime convict), active in law enforcement, or have a Commercial Driver’s License.

I contacted the lawyer that won the case against the state (for illegally blocking the addition of qualifying conditions to the medical cannabis program). He agrees that it is unconstitutional to block anyone from medicine based on their profession or criminal history. He believes that with a plaintiff, he can win the case AND additionally have the fingerprinting requirement for all applicants removed as that is also a violation of privacy and civil rights. […]

The whole state just decriminalized under 10 grams. The federal government is negotiating the transition of cannabis off of Schedule I designation. How much longer is cannabis going to be illegal? Why the draconian application process/bureaucratic institution for access to a non-toxic plant? Let’s move in the logical direction instead of letting this department sink it’s money-thirsty fangs into the sick patients of Illinois.

Did you know that when the new changes to the medical cannabis program were implemented on 8/1, the fee jumped from $100 to $300? Yeah, like getting into this program isn’t enough of a challenge. We knew that the cards would expire in 3 years, but no one NO ONE heard a word about charging $300 in advance for a 3 year card!! – They aren’t processing an application every year, so why charge the same $100 fee for every year? – totally insane… trust me, I know too much about how this department is using deficiency letters to discourage patients from pursuing their medical cannabis card.

1) Making a patient that has endured cancer treatment be re-fingerprinted to get access to a non-toxic plant.
2) Patients get a deficiency letter 4-6 weeks after they apply. Then, if they comply and provide anything they ask, it takes 14-30 days more to get the card!!
3) Those that don’t comply in the 45 day time frame lose their application fee.
4) Requiring an entire year of records from the VA to prove “ongoing care” is not in the law and is a violation of privacy.
5) Requiring the veteran’s DD214 to include character of service is not a part of the law but was added to the recently released application forms (8/1/16).

I’ve worked for 10 weeks with an agency that assists patients with the application process. I can’t un-see what I have witnessed. Just this week, a patient got the deficiency letter: Caregiver’s Fingerprint Consent Form is blurry. I went right to my file and resubmitted this document which is perfectly clear and sent it “actual size” – not compressed. This patient and many many more get these letters even though their application is PERFECT! The patient will be confused, frustrated and discouraged by the letter of deficiency. They abandon their application and the state keeps the application fees.

When this agency assists the patient, we immediately respond to the letter of deficiency. We see how regularly these deficiency notices are inaccurate. Because we push back on these situations, I’m pretty sure they hate us.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: We Need To Reform Our Overly Bureaucratic And Pricey Medical Marijuana Law
Author: Nicole van Rensburg
Contact: Capitol Fax
Photo Credit: David Downs
Website: Capitol Fax