Illinois opioid alternative program soon to accept marijuana applications, IDPH says

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois -- A bi-partisan bill aimed at curbing opioid abuse is already in effect, but Illinois residents still cannot use it.

The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program was signed into law on Aug. 28, 2018 by Gov. Rauner. The law states that anyone assigned opioid medicine for debilitating pain can temporarily receive marijuana as a substitute.

However, Illinois residents still cannot apply.

That's because the Illinois Department of Public Health had no way of immediately implementing the law when it was signed. Although emergency rules were to be established by Dec. 1, 2018, the program was not ready by this time.

"Implementing the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program required a heavy IT lift to create a registration and tracking system that is compatible with the current medical cannabis program," Melaney Arnold, with the IDPH, said in an email.

The department's website recommends people watch their web page for regular updates as they work to get the program running.

The IDPH expects the program to be up and running by the end of January, Arnold said.