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Governor Pritzker signs bill expanding medical cannabis program

Kevin Young August 20, 2019

On August 9, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law Illinois Senate Bill 2023, which amends and makes permanent the State’s pilot medical cannabis program (the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” or “MCPPA”). The amendment will result in an expansion in the number of patients in Illinois who qualify for treatment under the program and it incorporates the social equity component in the State’s recent Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

Under the Act, patients suffering from eleven (11) new conditions qualify to be treated under the MCPPA (listed below). The bill revises the MCPPA to designate advance practice registered nurses and physician assistants (in addition to physicians) as “Certifying Health Care Professionals” with authority to prescribe medical cannabis under the Act. Additionally, the amendment removes the provision that required denial of a cannabis dispensing organization’s application if one or more principal officers or board members of the organization was a registered qualified patient or a registered caregiver.

Additional qualifying conditions include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Autism
  • Chronic Pain
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Migraines 
  • Neuro-Behcet’s Autoimmune Disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome 

For dispensing organizations registered on or after July 1, 2019, the revised MCPPA also amends the provision that prohibited registered dispensing organizations from being located within 1,000 feet of pre-existing pre-schools, elementary schools, secondary schools, or day care centers, or in residential buildings or areas zoned for residential use. Also for new applicants, the amendment instructs the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to award no less than 20% of all available points to qualifying Social Equity applicants applying after July 1, 2019.

This latest expansion of the MCPPA is another development in the Illinois cannabis market after the recent passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act which approved cannabis in Illinois for adult use, and reflects the state’s efforts to support social equity in the cannabis space. See our recent post for more information.

Kevin Young is a partner in the Thompson Coburn’s corporate and securities practice and our cannabis group.

Thompson Coburn advises clients on state laws governing the business of cannabis to facilitate compliance with those state laws. Federal laws concerning cannabis currently conflict with state laws in states that have legalized cannabis or possession of cannabis. Although federal enforcement policy may at times defer to these states’ laws and not enforce conflicting federal laws, interested businesses and individuals should be aware that compliance with state law in no way assures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal laws may be enforced in the future. In addition to this Cannabis-specific note, readers should review Thompson Coburn’s Conditions of Use / Disclaimers page containing other important information.