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UPDATE: Medical Cannabis

State regulatory bodies release proposed regulations for public comment and review
By Jonathan Loiterman, JD

Illinois’ Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act provides a framework for patients to acquire and use medical cannabis produced exclusively by licensed cultivation centers and sold by licensed dispensaries (see May 2014 article). Illinois regulatory bodies are moving forward with drafting regulations governing the registration and licensing processes for patients, dispensaries, and cultivation centers.

On April 18, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the Department of Agriculture (DoA), and the Department of Revenue each submitted proposed regulations for public comment and review by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). You can find the new regulations at

The JCAR and public comment process is expected to take between 90-120 days, after which IDPH, IDFPR, and DoA will provide final details about when and how patients, dispensaries, and cultivation centers can apply for registration or licensing under the Act. Any possession, use, distribution or sale of cannabis remains prohibited under Illinois law until these regulations are finalized and the necessary registrations and/or licenses required under the Act have been issued. Cannabis will remain illegal under federal law.

The following are highlights from the proposed regulations submitted to JCAR. The regulatory provisions cited below may be subject to change.


Written certifications must include: patient identifying information; physician identifying information, including the DEA registration number; the length of time the physician has provided care to the patient; the patient’s qualifying condition; a statement certifying the existence of a bona-fide physician-patient relationship, including an in-person physical examination; a review of the patient’s medical history (12 months of records from other treating physicians); and an explanation of the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use.

Physicians may not serve on the board of directors or as an employee of a cultivation center regardless of whether the physician has or intends to certify patients under the Act.

Physicians may have a financial interest in a medical cannabis dispensary or cultivation center provided they do not certify patients under the Act.

Physicians may not advertise on the premises of cannabis businesses or have any type of referral arrangement.

Physicians are required to maintain records on several specified items for cannabis patients, including: visit dates; current medical history; description of the patient’s current medical condition; physical examination results; a treatment plan; informed consent; diagnosis and treatment rendered; a list of all drugs prescribed; radiographs and other diagnostic test; financial and billing records; identification of physicians or assistive personnel providing services; and laboratory results.

Physicians are not required to maintain a separate record of qualifying information for their cannabis patients.


The process for adding new qualifying medical conditions through IDPH now includes a Medical Cannabis Advisory Board of 15, including a cannabis patient advocate or caregiver, two nurses or nurse practitioners, three registered qualifying patients, and nine physicians, including one specialist each in neurology, pain management, oncology, psychiatry, infectious disease, family medicine, general primary care, medical ethics, and pharmacy. The board will convene twice per year, but the director of IDPH makes final decisions about additional qualifying conditions.

In 2014, patients with last names beginning with the letters A through L will be able to submit applications from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. Patients with names beginning with the letters M through Z will be able to submit applications between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.

Beginning in 2015, IDPH will accept patient applications year round.

$100 registration fee for eligible patients; $50 for patients on Social Security; $25 for caregivers.

Patients will pay a 1% tax on cannabis purchases.

Registered patients are no longer prohibited from holding a firearm concealed carry license.

Patients have an independent duty to report to IDPH if the patient ceases to qualify or changes his or her designated caregiver, subject to a penalty of up to $150.

Although felony drug convictions generally disqualify a patient from receiving a registration, a patient cannot be denied on the basis of a conviction related to medical use of cannabis and the termination of the last sentence was 10 or more years prior to the application.

The approval or denial of applications for registration and petitions for the inclusion of additional qualifying conditions are subject to judicial review.


There will be up to 22 dispensaries outside of the Chicago metropolitan area.

There will be up to 14 dispensaries within the Chicago metropolitan area but outside Cook County.

There will be 11 dispensaries outside the city of Chicago but inside Cook County.

There will be 13 dispensaries in the City of Chicago.

All dispensaries are subject to applicable zoning rules

Jonathan Loiterman is a senior associate at Lowis & Gellen, LLP.

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