Medical Marijuana Use in Illinois Up 83%

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common condition treated by patients who use medical cannabis.

The medical marijuana market in Illinois is growing. New data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows that the overall use of medical marijuana has risen 83 percent this year, with more than 46,000 people having used cannabis for medical purposes. The state’s 55 licensed dispensaries are now selling about $12 million in cannabis products every month.

Since 2014, Illinois’ medical marijuana law has allowed qualified patients to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana over a 2-week period. The total number of patients has climbed each year since the program’s launch.

The recent sharp rise in medical marijuana use, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, is partly attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being added as a qualifying condition in 2016. It is now the most common condition treated by medical marijuana patients in Illinois.

State officials believe the number of medical marijuana patients will continue to rise. The news of the recent surge comes only months after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure that allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana instead of opioids. The law also makes it easier for patients to apply for the program online and eliminates fingerprint and background check requirements.

The report also shows that the number of marijuana doctors who certified patients rose to more than 3,000 this year, up from about 2,100 last year. While 29 of those physicians have certified more than 100 patients each, most qualify fewer than 25 patients each.

The state also approved more than 4,000 designated caregivers in the past fiscal year, from July 1 through June 30.

Dry marijuana flower is the most popular type of medical cannabis product in Illinois, followed by concentrates and infused products. Nearly 75 percent of statewide registered medical marijuana patients are more than 40 years old.

Illinois’ pilot medical marijuana program is set to expire July 2020. It will need to either be renewed or replaced by lawmakers before then.

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Treating PTSD and Other Conditions

According to the new state report, the number of Illinois patients diagnosed with PTSD who were certified to buy medical marijuana more than doubled in the state’s fiscal year.

Research shows cannabis can help lessen the emotional impact of traumatic events in those with PTSD, reducing anxiety and fear and improving sleep.

There are now more than 4,000 patients with PTSD using cannabis for treatment, compared to 3,400 patients with fibromyalgia, and 2,500 patients with cancer. Last year, fibromyalgia and cancer ranked first and second.

Other common qualifying conditions in Illinois, according to the report, include spinal cord disease and injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-concussion syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

More on Medical Marijuana

Illinois is one of 30 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana. Two states – Missouri and Utah – will vote on medical cannabis initiatives this coming November.

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