Medical Cannabis: A Solution to the Opioid Crisis in Illinois

Access to medical cannabis has increased as states nationwide begin to adopt and adapt new and existing policies legalizing cannabis as an alternative medication for chronic illness. In response to a growing statewide opioid crisis, state legislators in Illinois took to the pen in efforts to reform and expand their existing cannabis legislation. At the end of January, the Senate was able to successfully pass through a new law that offers cannabis as a safer and less addictive alternative to opioids. In 2019 medical cannabis in Chicago and throughout Illinois will be available to treat chronic pain conditions.

How Medical Cannabis Works in the Body

 Medical cannabis offers a safer alternative to opioids due to the way cannabinoids, the healing compounds found in cannabis, interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body. The ECS in your body plays a vital role in regulating pain, appetite, and other daily processes; research has proven that the nerves in the ECS involved with pain recognition are coated with receptors for cannabinoids. When medical cannabis is ingested, these compounds interact with the receptors in your body to block pain.

 The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program

 The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP) is the newly passed legislation that expands on the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, enacted in 2013. The new law grants access to two and a half grams of medical cannabis every two weeks for patients with qualifying conditions. The Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging medical cannabis as a promising alternative to treat a wide range of diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, and many more debilitating conditions.

Applying for a Medical Card

In order to apply for a medical card through the OAPP, you must be at least eighteen and a resident of the state of Illinois. If you are struggling with one of the qualifying conditions, you can visit your physician for a certificate that will enable you to fill out the application and successfully be accepted.

Proven to be much less addictive than conventional opioids, medical cannabis is a great option for pain control and treatment.


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