Cannabis legislative activity is heating back up in Illinois as Governor Pritzker recently signed legislation to make the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program permanent as well as legislation clarifying who may administer medical cannabis to students in a school setting. This recent gubernatorial action takes place as Illinois gears up for the roll-out of recreational use cannabis on January 1, 2020.

Under Senate Bill 2023, the state’s existing medical cannabis program’s sunset date was eliminated thus making the program permanent. It also added qualifying medical conditions such as chronic pain, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoarthritis, anorexia nervosa, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Neuro-Behcet’s Autoimmune Disease, neuropathy, polycystic kidney disease and superior canal dehiscence syndrome to the list of qualifying conditions and allows advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to serve as “certifying healthcare professionals.” Before this legislation was signed into law, only physicians could certify medical cannabis program participants. While cannabis will be widely available for all citizens beginning January 1 through the recently passed recreational use bill, the state’s medical program still offers patients products with higher potency and tax breaks among other benefits that won’t be available outside the program. Another key component to Senate Bill 2023 is the addition of a social equity component for new licensees that want to cultivate and dispense medical cannabis similar to what was previously signed into law under House Bill 1438 that allows for recreational use as of January 1, 2020.

A link to both Senate Bill 2023 and House Bill 1438 can be found below:

SB 2023/Public Act 101-0363 – Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Sunset Elimination

HB 1438/Public Act 101-0027 – Illinois Recreational Use Cannabis Authorization

Senate Bill 455 was also recently signed by Governor Pritzker that will allow various school personnel to administer medical cannabis to students registered to participate in the program. It also allows for students to self-administer their medical cannabis under the supervision of a school nurse or administrator with parental or guardian approval. Prior to passage of Senate Bill 455, parents were required to physically travel to their child’s school in order to administer their medical cannabis.

A link to Senate Bill 455 can be found here:

SB 455/Public Act 101-0370 – School Administration Authorization for Medical Cannabis

And lastly, various state regulators continue to work on the roll-out of the recreational use cannabis program that will offer cannabis to the public beginning January 1, 2020. Up first for regulators is authorizing existing cannabis cultivators and dispensaries to begin sales at the first of the year as well as continuing the process of getting ready to issue applications for potential new dispensaries, craft cultivators, processors and transporters. As has been discussed previously here on the Dykema Cannabis Law Blog, this process will begin in earnest with the scheduled release of new dispensary licensure applications on October 1. The licensure applications for new craft cultivators, transporters and processors will then follow after the first of the year and into next spring. Before any of that occurs though, state regulators and legislators are continuing to discuss the need for a potential “trailer bill” that would attempt to clean up some of the language passed in HB 1438 as well as address unforeseen program implementation issues that have cropped up in the interim. This “trailer bill” is most likely to be considered during the Fall Veto Session in the Illinois General Assembly which convenes on October 29.

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