A recent post on this blog talked a little about national trends and local efforts regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. While several lawmakers in Illinois have begun the process of trying to legalize recreational use of the drug, only approved medical use is currently legal under state law. The state’s medical marijuana program currently includes more than 23,000 registered patients, but many believe the number could be higher if certain doctors and health systems were more inclined to recommend cannabis for approved conditions.
In order to qualify for participation in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in Illinois, a patient must be diagnosed with one of about 40 specified debilitating medical conditions. These conditions include various forms of cancer, as well as HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
The registration and approval process, however, requires more than a diagnosis. It requires the patient’s doctor to complete a form verifying that the physician is treating the patient for the qualifying condition. This is where many patients encounter problems.
An Inconsistent Approach
The form that is sent to the state is not a prescription for medical marijuana, but it seems that some doctors and health systems are hesitant to help patients in gaining access to the program. Perhaps the bigger problem is that the hesitance is discretionary rather than policy-based, which means that results may vary dramatically from one doctor to the next, even within the same hospital system.
For example, a spokesperson for Rush Copley Medical Group, a health system associated with Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, told the Northwest Herald that the group “has no specific policy prohibiting the signing of medical marijuana certificates,” but their doctors are “highly discouraged” from signing them.” The spokesperson cited lack of medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of cannabis in treating patients and lax regulatory control over the potency and quality of the marijuana.
Other medical groups in the region would not give a definitive answer on their policies about doctors signing the certificates. The results, in many cases, are frustration and confusion among patients who are only looking for relief from their afflictions.
The Importance of Compliance
While the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in Illinois, many who use the drug for medicinal purposes often acquire and possess much more than that. A person who possesses more than 10 grams without a valid medical program participation card could face criminal prosecution, with penalties including hefty fines and possible jail time. If you or someone you love has been charged, contact an experienced Joliet drug crimes defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.