December 6, 2020

How to Get and Renew a Medical Card in Illinois

December 6, 2020
It's easy to obtain a medical marijuana card in Illinois.

Can I Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois?

Yes, you can get a medical marijuana card in Illinois. After the passing of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013, patients with a prescription from a medical professional can use marijuana for medical purposes. For the first few years of Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Patient Program (MCPP) program, patients often ran into long wait times and complications in obtaining a medical card. There were even reports of patients having to call the Illinois Department of Public Health 300+ times to reach the MCPP helpline – and that was as late as 2019! As of October 2020, there are an estimated 143,000+ registered medical marijuana cardholders in the Land of Lincoln. 

Can You Possess Medical Marijuana in Illinois?

Card carrying patients in Illinois are able to possess medical marijuana for personal use, as well as grow up to five mature plants at their home. 

What is Required to Become a Medical Marijuana Patient?

To qualify for a patient registry ID card in the state of Illinois, there are a few standards patients are required to meet:

  • Must be an Illinois state resident at the time of applying and throughout their participation in the program
  • Must have a qualifying medical condition and have signed certification from a licensed physician
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Cannot hold a school bus permit or a Commercial Driver’s License, and cannot be a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, or firefighter

Is There an Age Restriction for Medical Marijuana Patients?

Yes and no—qualifying patients must be 18 years of age to obtain an adult registry ID card. However, the Illinois Department of Public Health has a separate application for minor qualifying patients

Minor qualifying patients, as well as two designated caregivers, are able to attain MMJ registry ID cards, following a similar evaluation and application process to their adult counterparts. 

What is a Qualifying Medical Condition in Illinois?

In order to qualify for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Program, patients have to be diagnosed with a debilitating condition outlined by the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The current list of qualifying conditions includes:

  • Autism
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
  • Dystonia
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neuro-Bechet’s autoimmune disease
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Residual limb pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of Epilepsy)
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
  • Spinal cord injury is damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia
  • Superior canal dehiscence syndrome
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Ulcerative colitis

The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to add other conditions to the list if needed. This was last seen in action in August of 2019 when Gov. Prtizker expanded the MMJ program further – adding 11 more conditions, including autism, IBS, and migraines.

How Much Medical Marijuana Am I Legally Allowed?

In addition to being permitted to grow up to five mature cannabis plants at their home, patients are allowed to purchase and possess up to two and a half ounces every two weeks (14 days). However, a licensed physician can provide a statement permitting patients to purchase and possess larger amounts of the plant. 

Steps to Getting a Medical Marijuana Patient Card in Illinois

The application process for Illinois’ medical marijuana program used to be a bit more stringent, requiring that patients be fingerprinted and undergo criminal background checks before approval. However, across 2018 and 2019, state legislation worked to expand the MMJ program and ease the attainment process. To get ahold of a patient registry card in Illinois, just follow these steps:

  1. Get Physician Approval

In order to qualify, patients must first obtain a completed Health Care Professional Written Certification Form from a healthcare professional. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, examinations for certification are not required to be done in-person until further notice.

  1. Complete the Application

Once patients have a certification form, they can move on to complete the Application for Qualifying Patient Registry Identification Card

  1. Gather Documents

Several documents must be submitted in addition to the patient application, including proof of age and identity (state ID, passport, etc.), proof of Illinois residency, a 2×2 photograph of the patient, and a non-refundable application fee (by check or Money Order). Once everything is together, submit it along with your application.

  1. Wait

If the patient chooses the mail-in option, they may be waiting up to three months to receive their registry card. And more disappointingly, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to receive a temporary medical card if you chose the physical mail-in route. However, when patients apply online, they generally have access to a temporary card within 24 hours of application approval. 

To begin the process virtually, visit the State of Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program eLicense System. If you are struggling with the application process, the Illinois Department of Public Health has free resources available for application assistance

What are the Fees Associated with an Illinois Medical Marijuana Card?

Application fees vary based upon the registry ID card for which the patient applies. 

  • One-Year Registry Card: $100
  • Two-Year Registry Card: $200
  • Three-Year Registry Card: $250

The application fee can be reduced if the qualifying patient is enrolled in Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income and submits a “Benefit Verification Letter” from the Social Security Administration proving so. The fee breakdown for that scenario is as follows:

  • One-Year Registry Card: $50
  • Two-Year Registry Card: $100
  • Three-Year Registry Card: $125

If a patient requires a designated caregiver to assist in the medical marijuana process, the caregiver must also have a registry ID card. However, caregiver application fees are certainly less steep:

  • One-Year Registry Card: $25
  • Two-Year Registry Card: $50
  • Three-Year Registry Card: $75

A more detailed breakdown of the fees can be found on the IDPH website.

How Does a Doctor’s Evaluation to Get an Illinois Medical Card Work?

The primary reason for the doctor’s evaluation is to confirm that the patient suffers from one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions. This often includes a brief breakdown of the patient’s medical history to determine eligibility – with the extensivity depending on the physician conducting the evaluation. If the health care professional deems the patient fit for the program, they must fill out a Health Care Professional Written Certification Form that states the patient is diagnosed with a qualifying condition. 

Due to COVID-19, doctors are able to perform virtual evaluations to determine MMJ program eligibility. Read up on IDPH’s COVID-19 Medical Cannabis Guidance to learn more about navigating the program during the pandemic.

What is My Next Step to Get My Medical Marijuana Card?

If you are an Illinois resident that’s still confused about your next step in obtaining a medical marijuana card, check the Illinois Department of Public Health’s online resource for the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program.

There, you’ll find access to free assistance for application completion, the online application portal, and even information on petitioning to add more qualifying conditions to the program.

How Do I Renew a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois?

Based upon the initial card the patient chooses during the application process, there are a couple types of renewals possible:

  1. Extension

If the patient didn’t purchase a three year registry card upon entering the program, an extension renewal is the route to take. It is a yearly incremental renewal, and a new Health Care Professional Written Certification Form is not required. Patients will receive a letter notifying them of their extension renewal about 45 days prior to their card expiring. The one-year extension fee is $100.

  1. Full Recertification

Patients that have had their card for three years require a full recertification renewal, requiring the submission of a new Health Care Professional Written Certification Form as well as additional documents. Patients will receive a letter notifying them of their full recertification renewal about five months prior to their card expiring. The full renewal fees are the same cost as the initial registry card fees.

Once a patient receives a letter from the Illinois Department of Public Health, indicating a potential extension or recertification, they must complete the renewal online: Medical Cannabis Pilot Program eLicense System

Additional Information

For more information on obtaining a medical marijuana card in Illinois, reference these resources:

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