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Lawmakers In Illinois Embrace Medical Marijuana As An Opioid Alternative

A painkiller prescription could become a ticket for medical marijuana in Illinois. Lawmakers there passed a bill making anyone with a prescription for opioids eligible for its medical cannabis program.

With this move, Illinois joins a growing number of states turning to legal cannabis in the fight against painkiller addiction.

“As we see the horrible damage inflicted by opioid use and misuse, it seems like a very low-cost and low-risk alternative,” says state Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, Ill., and sponsor of the senate version of the bill.

The Alternatives to Opioids Act would allow millions of patients to apply for temporary access to the state’s existing medical cannabis pilot program. The bill, which passed on May 31st, is now awaiting Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature. Though the bill has bipartisan support, marijuana advocates have some doubts whether he’ll sign it, given his past opposition to medical cannabis.

Lawmakers in several states have taken action to initiate or expand their medical marijuana programs in light of the opioid crisis.

Among them, in Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law adding PTSD and intractable pain to the list of conditions covered in its medical marijuana program in May. [Read more at NPR]

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