How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois

Overview
It's now possible to get a medical card for cannabis in Illinois. Look at our guide and find out what conditions should be met. Some may include a qualifying condition, doctor's approval, and other documentation. If you're an Illinois resident and have a medical issue, it may prove worthwhile to try and obtain an Illinois MMJ card.
State Program
Approved on
AUGUST 1, 2013
Online Application
Yes
MD Evaluation
Required
Yes
Card Validity
36Months
Patient
Registry Fee
$350
Phone:
1-855-636-3688
Official Gov Site:
dph.illinois.gov

CONSULTATION FEE RANGE

  • $175 – $350

MMJ PURCHASING LIMITS

  • A MAXIMUM OF 2.5 OUNCES EVERY 14 DAYS

HOME CULTIVATION?

  • YES

MINIMUM AGE LIMIT

  • 18

The state of Illinois legalized MMJ in August 2013. It followed through and permitted recreational marijuana in May 2019. Even though it is an established medical marijuana program in theory, in reality, patients have had issues for a long time. Applications for state-registered growers and sellers didn’t begin until late 2014. Bear in mind that it usually takes up to three years for everything to reach a full-scale pace.

As late as 2019, we read about Illinois patients having to call the Illinois DPH 300+ times to get through to the MMJ program! Fortunately, things have improved recently. Now, more medically eligible patients than ever are wondering how to get a medical marijuana card in Illinois.

This short guide will tell you everything you need to know about getting an IL medical card. However, first, let’s look into Illinois’s cannabis laws.

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Illinois Medical Marijuana Laws

Illinois decriminalized cannabis in July 2016. Even so, you can still get into trouble for marijuana offenses. While adult Illinois residents can buy up to 30 grams of cannabis, non-residents can purchase a maximum of 15 grams.

Possession of more than these amounts but less than or equal to 100 grams is a misdemeanor on the first offense with a possible jail term of 12 months. A second offense is a felony and could result in three years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Growing six or more plants, regardless of whether you’re an MMJ patient, is a felony.

The sale of 2.5 grams or less without a license is a misdemeanor, while selling 10+ grams is a felony. Recreational users cannot grow cannabis and receive a $200 fine for cultivating five plants or less for personal use. Growing six or more plants, regardless of whether you’re an MMJ patient, is a felony with a maximum incarceration period of three years.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois

Although you can buy adult-use cannabis in Illinois, qualified medical patients receive several benefits and financial incentives. For example, they are permitted to grow marijuana at home and have higher purchasing and possession limits than recreational users. Therefore, applying for an MMJ card in IL remains worthwhile if you are qualified. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1 – Get in Touch with an IL Healthcare Provider & Schedule a Consultation

Meet with a physician to discuss using cannabis for one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions. We provide a list of these conditions below. If you are not an Illinois resident with proof of residency, there is no point in proceeding.

During the consultation, the doctor will ask questions about your medical history. If they consider you eligible, they will complete a Physician Written Certification Form on your behalf. Then, they can mail it from their office to the Department’s Division of Medical Cannabis:

Illinois Department of Public Health

Division of Medical Cannabis

535 W. Jefferson Street

Springfield, IL 62761

*In-person applications are not accepted at the above address

medical marijuana illinois

Alternatively, the doctor can include the form with your online application. The form must state that you were diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions. The physician must also offer proof of an in-person office visit within 90 days of the application date. As is the case in most states, you must have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the doctor.

Illinois doesn’t provide a list of cannabis-friendly physicians. The onus is on you to find one.

Step 2 – Sign up for an Illinois State Government Account

You can only complete a Marijuana Card Application Form once you possess the Physician Written Certification Form.

The Illinois Department of Public Health website also offers helpful registration tips. It tells MMJ applicants to register with the Illinois Cannabis Tracking System (ICTS) by choosing the “MCPP Patient Registration” button.

From there, you need to add the requested personal information to register with the ICTS. Only then can you begin an MCPP application.

On the application, you must pick an MMJ dispensary where you intend to purchase cannabis products.

Applicants must also submit the following documents:

  • Non-refundable application fee, payable by check or money order and made out to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • 2” x 2” photograph taken in the last 30 days.
  • A completed copy of the Fingerprint Consent Form. You need fresh fingerprints taken within 30 days of applying with the following supporting documents attached:
    • Proof of age and identity. A color photocopy of either an Illinois Driver’s License, Illinois State ID, or the photo page of a U.S. passport.
    • Proof of Illinois residency.
    • Fingerprint receipt. Contact a fingerprinting vendor beforehand to make sure they do Medical Cannabis fingerprinting. Also, remember to bring the Fingerprint Consent Form to your appointment. You must add the Transaction Control Number (TCN) to the form.
    • Benefit Verification Letter from the Social Security Administration or DD-214. This is for applicants who are applying with reduced application fees.

You can mail all documents in an envelope along with the completed application form to the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, it is faster and easier to complete the application online.

Step 3 – Visit a Dispensary

Until recently, MMJ patients had to choose a single licensed dispensary. The rules of the program stated that it was only possible to purchase cannabis from that location. However, Governor Pritzker changed this rule when he signed HB 1443 into law on July 15, 2021. This piece of legislation removed the requirement to choose one dispensary only.

The online application process still requires MMJ patients to select a dispensary. However, they are no longer restricted to their chosen store and can buy from ANY licensed dispensary in Illinois. Also, it is no longer necessary to change dispensaries via the online system.

This news came after the Illinois Department of Public Health announced it was switching the MMJ Registry to a new system called Entellitrak. This new system was made available in June 2021.

It allows patients to check their online accounts at any time and make payments via a credit card. MMJ patients can also print paper registry cards when approved. This eliminates the need to wait for a card to get mailed to them.

Who Can Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in IL?

To apply for a medical marijuana card in IL, you must be a state resident who is 18+ with a qualifying condition. Also, applicants must not:

  • Have a conviction for an “excluded” offense, which includes a felony.
  • Hold a school bus permit or Commercial Driver’s License.
  • Be an active-duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, or firefighter.

Cost of MMJ Card in IL

The medical marijuana card cost in IL varies according to whether you want a one, two, or three-year registry ID card. The state program has halved the original fees in recent times. Here is an overview of the prices:

  • $50 for a 1-year ID card
  • $100 for a $2-year ID card
  • $125 for a $3-year ID card

Applicants who receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may qualify for a reduced fee application. In this case, the fees are:

  • $25 for a 1-year ID card
  • $50 for a 2-year ID card
  • $75 for a 3-year ID card

*[If you are enrolled in SSDI or SSI, you must submit a Benefits Verification Letter from the Social Security Administration. You add it to your application, and it shows your name and address and the type of benefits you receive.]

For caregivers, the application fees are as follows:

  • $25 for a 1-year ID card
  • $50 for a 2-year ID card
  • $75 for a 3-year ID card
  • $75 for a caregiver applying separately for a patient who has already been registered. The expiration date for the caregiver and the patient card is the same.

MMJ patients must pay extra for applying with caregivers. Here is a quick table of fees:

Type of Application

1-Year

2-Years

3-Years

Patient with 1 Caregiver

$75

$150

$200

Patient with 2 Caregivers

$100

$200

$275

Patient with 3 Caregivers

$125

$250

$350

Patient with 1 Caregiver (Reduced Fee)

$50

$100

$150

Patient with 2 Caregivers (Reduced Fees)

$75

$150

$225

Patient with 3 Caregivers (Reduced Fee)

$100

$200

$300

You must also pay for the doctor’s consultation, and the fee can range from $200 to $350 in some clinics!

*Persons diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less may apply for a medical cannabis registry identification card. There is no application fee.

IL MMJ Card Qualifying Conditions

There are dozens of IL medical marijuana card qualifying conditions, so this is not an exhaustive list. You can see the full list on the IDPH website.

  • Autism
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anorexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
  • Dystonia
  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy)
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome

You can submit a “Petition to Add Debilitating Condition” form if you don’t have a qualifying condition.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in IL?

If you opt for the mail option, it is a long wait! We have heard it can take up to 90 days to get your MMJ card in this fashion! You also don’t receive a temporary registry card when you send a paper application. However, you receive it if you decide to apply online. Indeed, you may get this particular card within 24 hours of a successful application.

The temporary card enables you to use a licensed dispensary, and you can use it until your permanent card arrives.

All applications are reviewed based on the date received. If additional documents are needed, you’ll receive a letter from the program asking for more information. You also get instructions on how to submit it.

How to Renew My Illinois Medical Card?

You must renew your MMJ card or extend it before it expires to remain with the Illinois medical marijuana program. You should receive an email from the IDPH 45 days before the expiration date on your card to remind you to extend it. It also sends an email about full certification renewal (three-year cards) five months before the expiry date.

In both cases, you must sign into the ICTS and select the application in the Tracking inbox that says “Pending Renewal.”

An extension renewal is an annual incremental renewal for individuals who didn’t get the three-year card at the beginning of the program and want to continue using MMJ. These patients don’t require new certification from a physician.

The full certification renewal is for patients who have had their MMJ card for three years or else it has expired. In this instance, you’ll need to book another consultation with a physician to receive fresh certification.

When renewing your card, you must select the 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year timeframe. You’ll also be asked if you want to add/renew caregivers, and you can cancel your existing caregiver. Complete the required fields in the Patient Information section and upload new documents.

Continue through the application, completing all fields marked with an asterisk. At the end, electronically sign the application and go to the MCPP Patient Caregiver Tab. There, you can cancel or retain your existing caregiver(s) or add new ones. You have to add your new doctor’s certification at this point. Finally, make your payment, and you’ll receive an email notification.

Once you’re in your ICTS account, you can change information. You can only select a 1-year or 2-year extension if you only had your MCPP card for a year. Answer questions on “reduced fees” and save. Go to the caregiver section if you need to make changes.

You’ll need to upload your original doctor’s certification, or else you can add a new one. Make your payment, and you’ll receive an email notification.

Other Information on the IL Medical Marijuana License Process

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding MMJ in Illinois.

What Types of Cannabis Can I Purchase in IL?

Once you have your Illinois MMJ card, you can purchase a wide array of marijuana products. These include flower, tinctures, topicals, vape products, extracts, edibles, and pre-rolls.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in IL Online

As the snail mail option can take up to 90 days, applying online is your best option. It could result in you receiving provisional access to MMJ just 24 hours after completing the application process. You should receive the physical version of the card in 4-6 weeks. Please note that you DON’T receive a temporary card if you apply via the mail.

Organizations such as Veriheal claim to make the application process easy. You can consult with an MMJ doctor online and receive your recommendation in just 15 minutes. However, you still have to go through the full process of applying to the state program online.

Can I Register My Child for Medical Marijuana in IL?

Yes. A minor with a debilitating condition can choose a one, two, or three-year MMJ card. A designated caregiver is specified for the qualifying patient who can have up to three caregivers, although at least one must be their parent or legal guardian. Minors also need a healthcare professional certification and a reviewing healthcare professional certification.

illinois medical marijuana

Also, MMJ patients aged 17 and under can only buy medical cannabis-infused products; other MMJ products aren’t allowed.

Where Can I Purchase MMJ in Illinois?

Illinois has dozens of MMJ dispensaries. They specialize in supplying cannabis and information to medical marijuana patients only. You can also use a recreational dispensary, though it may not have the same level of choice.

State law requires thorough testing for pesticides, toxins, and residual solvents. Therefore, you should get high-quality marijuana.

The good news is that state law requires thorough testing for pesticides, toxins, and residual solvents. Therefore, you should get high-quality marijuana if you use a licensed dispensary.

How Much Cannabis Can I Buy & Possess?

You can buy and possess an “adequate” amount of cannabis. The standard measurement in Illinois is 2.5 ounces every 14 days. You can get a doctor to sign a written statement that permits you to buy and possess a higher amount.

Can You Grow Marijuana in Illinois with a Medical Marijuana Card?

Yes. MMJ patients in Illinois can grow up to five plants in their private residences. No matter how many MMJ patients live in a household, this limit remains in place.

Where Can I Use My MMJ?

It is important to remember marijuana consumption is illegal on a federal level. As a result, you are not allowed to use cannabis in any public place. It is also forbidden in any motor vehicle. Employers, universities, landlords, and private clubs can also ban cannabis.

Can I Take My MMJ to a Different State?

No. Medical marijuana patients may face federal and local charges of transporting marijuana if they cross state lines with the drug. This is true even if the states between which they are traveling allow medical marijuana.

Out-of-state medical marijuana patients can’t purchase cannabis in Illinois dispensaries. This is the case even if they have a current/valid registration card from their home state. Only medical patients with a valid Illinois MMJ ID card can purchase weed from a state-licensed dispensary.

However, states like Arizona, Hawaii, and Maine may recognize an Illinois MMJ card as valid. If you’re aged 21+, you can buy up to 15 grams of recreational cannabis in IL if you’re not a resident.

What Are the Caregiver Rules?

You can choose someone who is a resident of Illinois and at least 21 years of age. They must not have any felony convictions and will undergo a criminal background check. A registered caregiver can only have one patient at a time. However, MMJ patients can have up to three caregivers.

What If I Lose My Medical Card in Illinois?

If you lose your MMJ card in Illinois, contact the DPH. They will send you a replacement card free of charge. There used to be a $25 fee, but this has been waived.

When Did Medical Marijuana in Illinois Become Legal?

Illinois prohibited marijuana in 1931, six years before the substance became illegal throughout the United States. In 1978, the Cannabis Control Act was passed, which technically permitted MMJ. However, it required action from the State Police and Human Services, and neither entity was willing to get involved.

Therefore, Illinois residents had to wait until 2013 before the state’s General Assembly passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. In 2016, the state decriminalized the possession of up 10 grams of weed.

Recreational marijuana became legal in May 2019, with sales officially starting in January 2020. Adults aged 21+ can buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Chicago

Finding a physician willing to certify you in the Chicago area should prove very easy. If you somehow have difficulties finding one, you can always complete an online consultation. Once you have your MMJ card, there are plenty of MMJ dispensaries in Chicago to choose from.

MMJ Card for Veterans in IL

Veterans who receive health services at a Veteran’s Administration (VA) facility are NOT required to obtain a physician’s written certification. Instead, they must submit 12 months of VA records to the Department of Public Health (Division of Medical Cannabis) with their application.

Final Thoughts on Getting an Illinois Medical Marijuana Card

You might think it isn’t worth getting an Illinois medical marijuana card now that the state allows recreational cannabis. However, MMJ patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in 14 days. In comparison, adult-use customers can buy and possess a maximum of one ounce.

Also, MMJ patients pay lower taxes, so they get less expensive cannabis. They still have a better range of options and can cultivate up to five plants at home, whereas recreational users are not allowed to grow marijuana. Ultimately, if you live in Illinois and believe cannabis can help with a medical condition, it is worth applying for an Illinois MMJ card.

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