The Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act requires physicians to be the gatekeeper for access to medical cannabis. A physician may only be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed under the Medical Practice Act to practice medicine and must have a current controlled substances license under Article II of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. No other licensed profession (including dentists) are allowed to certify a qualifying patient for medical cannabis use.
Physician Written Certification Form
As of August 1st, 2016, the Illinois Department of Public Health has updated the Physician Written Certification form. In this update, a physician is no longer required to recommend the use of medical cannabis. This form however, must still be completed and submitted by the physician.
How to Talk to Your Physician
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has expressed its commitment to the effective implementation of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. When talking to your physician, consider the following points.
- Bring any available medical records you may have.
- Explain what you hope to gain from the use of medicinal cannabis. For example, do you want to restore appetite? Are you seeking to relieve pain, nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms caused by your medical condition or the medications using to treat your medical condition?
- Let your doctor know that you are aware of some of the side effects that may occur, such as: dry mouth, dry or red eyes, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, or anxiety.
- Be prepared to discuss with your doctor the benefits of medical cannabis versus the risks. Use professional language, such as “medical cannabis” or “medical marijuana.” Refrain from using slang terms such as “pot” or “weed.”
- Remind your doctor that (s)he is not writing a prescription, but instead giving a written certification. This is a document dated and signed by a physician stating that there is a “bona fide” physician-patient relationship.
- Any Symptoms ?
- Any Diagnosed conditions ?
- What you are currently doing to treat your condition or symptoms?
- How often you are medicating?
- In what form are you medicating?
Ask your doctor if your use of the following medications should be adjusted with the use of medicinal cannabis:
- Sedative hypnotics
- Sedating anticholinergics
The Physician-Patient Relationship
Physicians are not “prescribing” medical cannabis.
Instead, a physician is asked to certify that in his or her patient has one of the debilitating medical conditions or symptoms of a qualifying condition, and that a bona fide relationship has been established.
Physicians should have a “bona fide” physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient.
A physician should be able to comfortably certify that the qualifying patient is under the physician’s care, either as the patient’s primary care physician, or for his or her debilitating medical condition. See 77 Ill. Adm. Code 946.10.
Physicians may accept payment from a qualifying patient for the fee associated with the examination required before recommending medical cannabis.
However, physicians may not accept any remuneration for making a medical marijuana certification, nor can they accept any remuneration from any dispensary for such a recommendation. See 410 ILCS 130/35.
Physicians are entitled to a “safe harbor” under Illinois state law.
The Medical Disciplinary Board may not discipline physicians for making a proper certification for medical cannabis to qualifying patients. See 410 ILCS 130/25(e).
Unlike other pharmaceuticals, physicians cannot “overprescribe” medical cannabis.
Physicians are not required to regulate dosage, strain, or administration of medical cannabis. Under the law, qualifying patients are unable to procure unlimited amounts of medical cannabis.
For more information, please visit the IDPH website: www.dph.illinois.gov
This information is not a referral by a physician to a specific dispensary. This information is being provided by the dispensary for the education and support of the qualifying patient or designated caregiver. The choice of dispensary is the patient's alone. A dispensary may not accept referral of patients from a physician. Neither may a physician refer a qualifying patient to a dispensary.