Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Marijuana in Illinois

The attorneys of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC answer some of the common questions we have received about medical marijuana’s availability in Chicago.


What Illinois Law Allows Medicinal Cannabis Use?

The “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” became law in 2013. It allows people who have been diagnosed with a condition which is considered “debilitating” to register themselves with the Illinois Department of Public Health so that they can obtain marijuana for use medically. This program covers all cities in Illinois, from Chicago to Quincy and everywhere in between.

Which Debilitating Conditions Qualify?

Additional qualifying conditions may be added from time to time, and Illinois residents are invited to petition the department to ask that other conditions be added to the list. As of the time of this writing, the most recent list has about 40 conditions, which (in addition to others not listed below) include:

  • Cancer
  • PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Seizures
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hydrocephalus
  • HIV or AIDS

What Are the Other Requirements?

In order to obtain a patient registry identification card, a qualified applicant must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Be an Illinois resident
  • Have a listed condition
  • Have a physician certification signed
  • Submit to a fingerprint-based background check
  • Not have a conviction for certain excluded criminal offenses
  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Not hold a CDL (commercial driver’s license) or school bus permit
  • Not be an active firefighter, correctional probation officer, correctional officer, or law enforcement officer

How Do I Get Doctor Certification?

In order to get approved, you must have a doctor you know complete a written physical certification. The doctor must be someone that you have an actual relationship with and not just a “doc-in-the-box” that you just met and is willing to sign a certification. The doctor will have to attest that he/she knows you, that you were examined in the last 90 days, that he/she has responsibility for your ongoing care, and a few other things. The doctor will not give you a copy of the paperwork, but will send it directly into the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Does My Doctor Prescribe the Amount of Cannabis?

No. Your doctor does not give a prescription. Once accepted, a patient is allowed to purchase up to 2.5 grams of cannabis over a 14-day period of time. If the doctor believes that this is not a sufficient supply, he or she can submit a written and signed statement to the Illinois Department of Public Health requesting an increase.

Can I Smoke Cannabis Outside with a Card?

The Illinois law does not allow you to smoke in a “public place” (which means “a place where you might reasonably be expected to be observed by others”). So if you want to sit at an outdoor café, sipping a cappuccino while smoking medical cannabis, you’re out of luck in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Can I Buy Cannabis from Any Dispensary in Illinois?

When completing the application, you will need to select just one specific dispensary from which to purchase medical cannabis. In the event that you move or would like to change dispensaries, the Illinois Department of Public Health has a simple form that will allow you to switch dispensaries.

Where Do I Get the Application Forms?

The Illinois Department of Public Health has all the forms necessary to apply online, including the patient application, fingerprint form, and physician’s written certification. The forms can be found at: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis.

Since 1990, the law offices of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC have defended those accused of crimes, as well as those injured due to the negligence of others. Call us 24 hours a day for free legal information about how we may be able to help you. Our toll-free number is (800) 996-4824.

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