As more studies show marijuana can be used as a substitute for opioids, states are making moves to allow medicinal cannabis for addicts of these dangerous drugs. And it now appears Illinois could be leading the charge.
The Illinois legislature approved a new bill that would allow opioid patients living in the state to receive medical marijuana instead. The idea is that patients who have a medical need for prescription painkillers would be able to use cannabis as an alternative to prevent opioid abuse. The bill also eliminates a requirement that medical marijuana patients in the state need to get fingerprinted and undergo criminal background checks.
The bill still needs to be signed by Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who has opposed expanding the state's medical marijuana program in the past. However, considering the bill passed with strong bipartisan support in both chambers of the Illinois legislature, Rauner would be under considerable political pressure to pass the bill.
There have been a reported 11,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in Illinois over the past 10 years.
While the state only boasts 37,000 patients in its current medical marijuana program, there were eight million opioid prescriptions filled in Illinois in 2015. That means opioid patients could become a major boom for the Illinois cannabis industry.
Rauner is up for re-election this November. His opponent, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, supports legalizing recreational marijuana. So perhaps Rauner will attempt a minor concession to pro-marijuana voters as a way to gain some support this November.
(h/t Chicago Tribune)