The state of Illinois legalized MMJ in August 2013. It followed through and permitted recreational marijuana in June 2019. Even though it is an established medical marijuana program, in theory, 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. In this short guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know.
[Article update: The sale and use of recreational marijuana in Illinois became legal as of January 1, 2020 for adults 21 years of age and older. However, it remains beneficial for medically-qualified patients to apply for and obtain a medical marijuana card in the state. Keep reading to find out why.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois
Illinois decriminalized pot back in 2016 for all individuals. Also, residents can purchase up to an ounce of cannabis once they are aged 21+. Even non-residents can attain up to half an ounce. Even so, qualified medical patients in IL are afforded several benefits and financial incentives.
The cannabis that MMJ patients purchase is usually cheaper, and they can buy and possess a greater amount than recreational users.
Therefore, it remains worthwhile to apply for an MMJ card in IL if you are qualified. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 – Find a Physician to Approve You
Meet with a physician to discuss using cannabis under one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions. We provide a list of these conditions below. There is no point in proceeding if you are not an Illinois resident with proof of residency.
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]
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.
The state of Illinois doesn’t provide a list of ‘cannabis-friendly’ physicians. The onus is on you to find one.
Step 2 – Complete the Application Form
You can only complete a Marijuana Card Application Form once you possess the Physician Written Certification Form. On the application, you must pick an MMJ dispensary where you intend to purchase cannabis products. You can find a list of state-licensed dispensaries here.
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. Here is a list of fingerprinting vendors. Contact them beforehand to make sure they do Medical Cannabis fingerprinting. Also, remember to bring the Fingerprint Consent Form to your appointment. You will need to 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 – Wait Patiently for Your MMJ Card!
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! When you send a paper application, you also don’t receive a temporary registry card. 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.
Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois – Are There Other Restrictions?
Yes! Applicants must not:
- Have a conviction for an ‘excluded’ offense, which includes a felony.
- Be under the age of 18. There is a different application form for minors.
- Hold a school bus permit or Commercial Driver’s License.
- Be an active duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, or firefighter.
What Are the Illinois Medical Marijuana Costs?
You can apply for either a one, two, or three-year registry ID card.
- $100 for a 1-year ID card
- $200 for a $2-year ID card
- $250 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:
- $50 for a 1-year ID card
- $100 for a 2-year ID card
- $125 for a 3-year ID card
*[If you are enrolled in SSDI or SSI, you will need to submit a “Benefit 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 that 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.
*[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.]
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. Click here for the process of applying for medical marijuana in Illinois as a veteran.
*The process of applying for medical marijuana in Illinois as a minor (under the age of 18) is also different. Please check here for guidelines.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois?
Here is a look at some of the qualifying conditions. There are dozens of options, so this is not an exhaustive list. You can see the full list on the IDPH website.
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Crohn’s disease
- CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
- Fibrous Dysplasia
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Nail-patella syndrome
- 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)
- Tourette syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Cachexia/wasting syndrome
If you don’t have a qualifying condition, you can submit a Petition to Add Debilitating Condition form.
Other Information on the Illinois Medical Marijuana License Process
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding MMJ in Illinois:
How Do I Get a Renewal?
You will receive a letter from the Department of Health 60–90 days before the expiration of your current medical marijuana card. There are a couple of options for renewal. An Extension Renewal is an annual incremental option. It is for those who didn’t initially get the three-year MMJ card.
Patients with expired cards or those with a three-year card must go through a Full Recertification Renewal. This process involves an updated physician’s certification and submission of new documents. The renewal fees are the same as the original card costs.
I’m from out of State, How Do I Buy 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 are eligible to purchase weed from a state-licensed dispensary.
How Much Medical Marijuana Can I purchase?
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 I Take My Meds 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.
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Anywhere?
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. There is an exception in place for MMJ patients regarding usage on school grounds. Employers, universities, landlords, and private clubs can also ban weed, too.
Can I Grow Cannabis at Home?
In a recent development, MMJ patients in Illinois can grow up to five plants at their private residence. This limit remains in place no matter how many MMJ patients live in a household.
Who Can I Choose as a Caregiver?
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.
Where Can I Purchase Cannabis in Illinois?
Illinois has dozens of MMJ dispensaries. They specialize in supplying cannabis and information to medical marijuana patients only. You also have the option of using a recreational dispensary, though it may not have the same level of choice.
The good news is that state law requires thorough testing for pesticides, toxins, and residual solvents. Therefore, you should get high-quality marijuana as long as you use a licensed dispensary.
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