Illinois lawmakers have approved a measure not only to allow medical marijuana to be used in place of prescription painkillers, but to eliminate requirements for patients to get fingerprints and criminal background checks.
The change would allow all new applicants to buy medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries based on their doctors’ orders, rather than having to wait up to four months for bureaucratic approval. Patients could no longer be denied based on criminal convictions.
Gov. Bruce Rauner faces a decision over whether to sign the bill into law. Rauner has opposed most expansion of medical marijuana, and could not be reached for comment, but there are some indications he may change his mind in this case.
The original sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, said he was impressed by testimony at hearings in Springfield from patients who had used marijuana to reduce or eliminate use of opioids like Vicodin.
While science is not settled on the efficacy of using cannabis in place of narcotics, Harmon said, “The only two things I know for certain is, opioids kill people, and marijuana does not.” [Read more at Chicago Tribune]