For Illinois residents to become a medical cannabis patient, they are required to have their qualified debilitating condition or terminal Illinois certified by their physician. Certification consists of proper completion and signing of the Physician Written Certification Form.
A common misconception is that patients are being “prescribed” medical cannabis and that is not the case. Instead, a patient will work closely with a dispensary technician to determine their appropriate method of medicating and dosage. Our general rule of thumb is that a patient starts at a lower dosage and adjust intake gradually to find the best fit for them.
Who can certify a qualifying patient’s debilitating condition?
The medical provider must be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed under the Medical Practice Act of 1987, have a controlled substances license under Article III of Illinois Controlled Substances Act, be in good standing to practice medicine in Illinois, and have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the patient whose debilitating condition they are certifying. Advance Practice Nurses (APN) and Physician Assistants (PA) are now permitted to certify patients as well, assuming they have both an active license to practice in Illinois and an Illinois Controlled Substances License.
What defines a bona-fide physician-patient relationship?
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), a bona-fide physician-patient relationship is defined as “a relationship in which the physician has ongoing responsibility for the assessment, care and treatment of a patient's debilitating medical condition, or a symptom of the patient's debilitating medical condition, for which the physician has certified to the Department that the qualifying patient would receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of cannabis.” It is a requirement that qualifying patients that wish to pursue medical cannabis as a means of medicating get certified by their physician once every three years for their debilitating condition. When a physician has completed this certification, it remains valid for the next 90 days only.
How do I submit a physician certification for a qualifying patient?
The physician must complete the Physician Certification Form found here. If the prospective patient is under the age of 18, they will want to use the form found here instead. The physician can either type directly into the provided PDF form or write in print as clearly as possible. If the IDPH cannot read your writing, they may be unable to match the physician certification with the patient’s application causing delays in processing. It is also key that the document is signed by the physician in blue ink to be valid. The physician will want to give their patient this completed Physician Certification Form during this visit and then the patient will want to scan in this document in color as a PDF and upload it with their other medical patient application documents should they choose to apply online.
If a patient needs assistance applying, give us a call at the dispensary to arrange an appointment. The patient will need to bring this completed Physician Certification Form along with the other required medical cannabis registry application documents with them when they come to their appointment at the dispensary.
How much medical cannabis can a registered patient purchase?
Patients are allotted 2.5 ounces (or 70.87 grams) of medical cannabis during a 14-day period. This is the amount as defined in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program as an “adequate supply.” If a physician deems that it is necessary to have an increase in this amount, they can submit a signed, written waiver asserting so. The necessary form that your physician must complete to increase your “adequate supply” can be found here. The physician will mail this completed form to the IDPH for approval. At that time, the patient will need to provide the physician a $25 check or money order (made payable to the IDPH) to accompany with the completed waiver. When approved, the patient will have received a new card reflecting the change and be notified at the dispensary of their increased amount when they come in to make a purchase.
Can a physician terminate the certification for a registered qualifying patient?
Yes. Although certification is valid for the entire 3-year duration of the medical cannabis registry identification card, the physician at any point can revoke the patient’s certification if they no longer have the debilitating medical condition.
Can a physician charge the patient for the certification?
Patients with a qualifying condition have no need to pay their physician to certify them. However, a physician may have fees associated with the physical examination itself that would require them to bill a patient accordingly.