How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card

One of the most popular and beneficial uses of cannabis products is the use of products for medicinal purposes. Use of cannabis products have been linked to positive outcomes for people suffering from pain, anxiety, nausea and much more. While cannabis is legal in Illinois for recreational use, if you’re interested in using it to treat a medical condition you should still do so through the Illinois Medical Marijuana program. Those who are part of the program can save money, cultivate certain amounts of plants at home as well as other beneficial factors as opposed to just buying products for recreational use.

Some may be confused about how to obtain their medical marijuana card, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Learn more below about the medical cannabis patient registry program, how to apply for your card, what conditions cannabis may be used to treat and more.

The Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program

The Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program was established when Illinois legalized cannabis products for medicinal use. The Illinois Department of Public Health lays out the history and details of the program, writing “In August 2013, Illinois became the 20th state to authorize a program for the cultivation and dispensing of cannabis for medical purposes. The Medical Cannabis Registry Program is a statewide program that allows patients access to medical marijuana who meet one of the qualifying conditions. The Illinois Department of Public Health manages the registry by reviewing and processing applications and issuing registry cards to Illinois residents meeting program requirements. IDPH protects patient confidentiality while striving to ensure timely accessibility to cannabis for registered patients.”

The program gives countless people across the state an opportunity to manage their conditions in a way they previously couldn’t. Access to cannabis products has allowed for effective and comfortable treatments. If you, or someone you know may benefit from these treatments, please read more on how to apply for the program.

How to Apply

There are several steps to applying, but the first is having a care provider who will be able to help you through the process. Oftentimes, your primary care provider may be certified, or will be able to recommend you to doctors who are. A physician is not only important for providing a diagnosis, but can also often help you navigate how to apply and obtain your medical marijuana card. Please note that a medical card in Illinois costs $50 to be certified for one year, $100 for two years, and $125 for three years.

Once you have a doctor who will be able to help through the process, it’s time to register for the program. This can be done online here. The provided link will help guide you through the process so we recommend reading about how to apply there. Before you apply, make sure you have the following required documents to submit along with your application.

You’ll need to submit:
Government-issued ID (Current Illinois driver’s license or state ID)

  • A current, valid, government-issued ID, such as an Illinois Drivers License or State ID
  • A 2′′x2′′ color photo (similar to a passport photo), taken within the last 30 days, on a solid-colored background, with just you alone in the frame. 
  • While you can try this on an iPhone, it might be easier to visit a pharmacy or local passport photo service.
  • To prove Illinois residency, you might be required to submit a voter ID card, a bank statement, or utility bills.
  • If you’re applying with a caregiver, you’ll need that caregiver’s identification. 
  • If you’re applying as a ‘reduced fee applicant’, you’ll need to submit Social Security Benefit
  • Verification statements or alternatively, a copy of Veteran Form DD-214.
 

The link we provided to apply for the program is the most commonly used registration instructions. However, there may be other instructions for other categories of registrants for the program. This may include applications for patients with terminal illnesses, patients with a caregiver, etc. To find applications for other categories of patients, please find more information here.

Now you have information on the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program, as well as information on how to apply. You may still be wondering who is eligible though. Read more about what qualifies someone as eligible below.

“Debilitating Conditions”

Under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, patients must be diagnosed with a debilitating condition in order to qualify for the use of medical cannabis products. If you’re interested in applying for your medical marijuana card but are not sure if your condition qualifies as a debilitating condition, the Illinois Department of Public Health has created a list of conditions that qualify as a debilitating condition.

List of Debilitating Conditions

Autism, Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Anorexia nervosa, Arnold-Chiari malformation, Cancer, Cachexia/wasting syndrome, Causalgia, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II), Dystonia, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Fibrous Dysplasia, Glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Hydrocephalus, Hydromyelia, Interstitial cystitis, Irritable bowel syndrome, Lupus, Migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Myasthenia Gravis, Myoclonus, Nail-patella syndrome, Neuro-Bechet’s autoimmune disease, Neurofibromatosis Neuropathy, Osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), Post-Concussion Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Residual limb pain, Rheumatoid arthritis, Seizures (including those characteristic of Epilepsy), Severe fibromyalgia. Sjogren’s syndrome, Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis), Spinal cord injury is damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, Spinocerebellar ataxia, Superior canal dehiscence syndrome, Syringomyelia, Tarlov cysts, Tourette syndrome, Traumatic brain injury, Ulcerative colitis.

If you have not been diagnosed with one of the listed conditions, you can follow the list of approved diagnoses at the Illinois Department of Public Health here for possible updates. There is also the opportunity to petition the Illinois Department of Public Health to add conditions as a debilitating condition. You can find more information on petitioning to add debilitating conditions here.

Resources

This blog is meant to give you an introduction to how to get your medical marijuana card, but there is of course always more to learn. If you want to read further about the process you can check out the sources used to put together this introduction.

Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program: https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis.html

Qualifying Patient Application Instructions: https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/patient-application-instructions.html

Debilitating Conditions List and Information: https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/debilitating-conditions 

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