Medical Marijuana Basics

What medical conditions can cannabis treat in Illinois?

Under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, medical marijuana may be used to treat a host of qualifying conditions, including: [ 1 ]

  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Cancer
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome Type II)
  • Dystonia
  • Fibrous Dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hydromyelia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Residual limb pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of Epilepsy)
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Spinal cord disease (including but not limited to arachnoiditis)
  • Spinal cord injury is damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wasting syndrome/Cachexia
How do I get a medical cannabis card?

There are three steps to applying for your medical marijuana card in Illinois: [ 2 ]

  • Step One: Your physician must provide a written certification of your diagnosis of a debilitating condition or terminal illness. Your doctor’s office will mail this into the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Medical Cannabis. The certification must be received within 90 days of your application and must show an in-person visit date within the prior 90 days.
  • Step Two: Complete your application, and obtain the required documents to accompany its submission. You will need to pay a non-refundable application fee; provide a recent photograph; provide a copy of identification to prove your age, identity, and residency; and have your fingerprints scanned by a qualified vendor. The application and instructions can be found here.
  • Step Three: Submit your completed application, registration fee, photograph, proof of age and identity, proof of residency, and fingerprint receipt to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Terminal patients may apply for a 6-month license for medical marijuana, free of charge. More information can be found here.
  • Veterans receiving healthcare from a VA facility do not need a physician’s certification, but must provide medical records from the VA facility for the prior 12 months. More information can be found here.
Does my doctor have to recommend cannabis as a treatment?

No. As of June 30, 2016, your physician doesn’t have to explicitly prescribe medical marijuana therapy. However, they do have to verify that there exists an authentic doctor-patient relationship, and that you have been diagnosed with one of Illinois’ qualifying medical conditions. [ 3 ]

Once I have my medical card, can I go to any registered Illinois dispensary?

Yes. Once you have your patient registry identification card, you can choose from any of Illinois’ registered medical marijuana dispensaries. But you must select and commit to one dispensary before you’re able to purchase products. [ 4 ]

To select your medical cannabis dispensary, submit this form. You can use the same form to select a new dispensary at any time.

How much medical cannabis can I possess?

Patients are allotted an “adequate supply,” defined as 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every 14-day period by the state of Illinois. [ 5 ]

However, as a patient, if there is a substantial medical need, your physician may provide a written assertion that 2.5 ounces is an insufficient supply for a 14-day period to provide proper relief for your debilitating medical condition or associated symptoms. [ 10 ]

Can patients under the age of 18 qualify for a medical cannabis card?

Yes. In the state of Illinois, a minor may apply for a medical cannabis card if they meet the following criteria: [ 7 ]

  • They are a resident of the state of Illinois at the time of the application, and remain a resident during participation in the program
  • They have a qualifying debilitating medical condition
  • They have two signed physician certifications for the use of medical marijuana

There are some limitations, however. Patients under 18 will need to designate at least one adult caregiver (although there is no charge for the associated application) [ 6 ], and they are restricted to using only marijuana-infused products. [ 7 ]

What’s a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone legally designated to help with procuring medical marijuana on behalf of one patient. [ 3 ] Caregiver applications should be submitted at the time of patient applications. Medical marijuana patients under the age of 18 are required to designate one approved caregiver, and may choose to designate two approved caregivers. [ 7 ]

How do I apply to become a caregiver?

Caregivers can only serve one qualified patient. To apply, you must be at least 21 years old, an Illinois resident, and complete a fingerprint-based background check. You must not have been convicted of an excluded offense, including a felony under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, Cannabis Control Act, or Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act. [ 8 ] You can find the caregiver application here. [ 9 ]

Am I allowed to grow medical cannabis at home?

No. Home cultivation is currently illegal in Illinois. [ 3 ]


1 Illinois Department of Public Health: Debilitating Conditions 2 Illinois Department of Public Health: Medical Cannabis Patient Application 3 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: Illinois Medical Marijuana Law 4 Illinois Department of Public Health: Select or Change a Medical Cannabis Dispensary 5 Illinois General Assembly, Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Administrative Code: Title 77, Chapter 1, Subchapter u, Part 946, Section 946.10: Definitions 6 Illinois Department of Public Health: Application for Registry Identification Card for Qualifying Patients Under 18 Years of Age and their Designated Caregiver Instructions [PDF] 7 Illinois Department of Public Health: Minor Qualifying Patient Application 8 Illinois Department of Public Health: Application for Designated Caregiver Registry Identification Card Instructions [PDF] 9 Illinois Department of Public Health: Application for a Designated Caregiver Registry Identification Card [PDF] 10 Illinois General Assembly, Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Administrative Code: Title 77, Chapter 1, Subchapter u, Part 946, Section 946.315: Waiver for Increasing the Adequate Supply of Medical Cannabis