Last month, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Alternatives to Opioids Act. The new law lets Illinois physicians authorize patients whom they’d normally prescribe opioids for pain relief to legally obtain and use medical marijuana instead.
Gov. Rauner noted that “we are the first state to give medical prescribers a way to help adult patients manage their pain without compromising their safety or Illinois’ marijuana program standards.” He said he hopes this will help in the battle against opioid abuse and overdose. Nearly 2,000 people in Illinois fatally overdosed on opioids in 2016. The effectiveness of marijuana as a substitute for opioids to relieve pain has been documented.
Illinois, like a majority of states, has legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of specified conditions. The new law lifts some restrictions that have been in place under the 2014 Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. It also removes the requirement that applicants for medical marijuana use and caregivers undergo background checks and fingerprinting.
When new laws are enacted or current ones are changed, it often takes some time before everyone who is charged with enforcing the law is fully informed about how they work. Citizens may not always have accurate information, either. Marijuana laws, which vary significantly throughout the country, can be particularly confusing, and they’re often not consistently enforced, even within a jurisdiction.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession or another crime related to marijuana, don’t take it lightly. An experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can work to protect your rights and minimize the consequences of the arrest.