SPRINGFIELD, IL — Military veterans seeking medical marijuana in Illinois may have an easier time accessing the medicine under legislation pending in the Illinois House.
An amendment to Senate Bill 1955, legislation to allow online lottery sales in the state, was filed by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), sponsor of successful legislation which created the medical marijuana pilot program in the state earlier this year.
Under the Lang’s House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, people suffering from specific medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, will be allowed to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Veterans’ homes doctors are federal employees, they are not allowed to approve or recommend medical marijuana for their patients.
Under the amendment filed by Rep. Lang, veterans being treated for approved conditions at at VA facility would not need a doctor’s recommendation to obtain medical marijuana certification from the state.
Instead, the Department of Public Health, who will oversee the medical marijuana program once it is operational next year, will be allowed to issue the medical marijuana certification upon verification that the applicant is a veteran being treated for a qualified debilitating medical condition at a VA facility.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 10-6 on Tuesday to move the amended bill to the House floor. If the bill, which was approved by the Senate in April, passes the floor of the House, the Senate will need to approve the House changes to the bill before it is sent to the Governor for approval.
Under Illinois’ four-year pilot medical marijuana program, patients must be diagnosed with one of 33 debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV/AIDS in order to qualify for medical marijuana.
Among the most common ailments affecting military veterans today, traumatic brain injuries and post-concussion syndrome are qualifying ailments for the Illinois medical marijuana program, however post-traumatic stress disorder is not.
The state’s medical marijuana law will take effect on January 1, 2014, but a timeline for implementation has not yet been established.