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Illinois Proposal Would Expand Medical Cannabis Program in Bid to Reduce Opioid Addiction

People in Illiniois who are prescribed opioids would be able to instead legally access medical marijuana under a bill proposed by a state senator.

The patients would be able to get a medical cannabis card valid for a year in hopes that might help their pain and keep them from using the opioid prescription and becoming addicted.

The measure has sailed through the Senate’s committee process, and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Don Harmon, told the Chicago Sun Times in a story published Tuesday that the bill’s chances in the Senate appear excellent – and he thinks chances are also good in the House.


Nearly 2,000 people in Illinois died from overdoses of opioid drugs in 2016, the Sun Times reported.

Lawmakers in Illinois will consider the idea of hoping to reduce opioid addiction by increasing access to cannabis as research is starting to show that cannabis use might reduce use of other drugs.


Two studies published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found states with legal medical cannabis programs, including Illinois, saw lower rates of opioid prescriptions than states without medical cannabis access.

Harmon’s measure would expand the definition of “debilitating medical condition,” which is what people must have to be able to access medical marijuana in Illinois, to include any condition for which a doctor has prescribed opioid pain medication.

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