Illinois Opioid Alternative Program

cannabis and opioids

Cannabis vs. Opioids

A safer option for Healing

Medical cannabis can provide the benefits of pain relief similar to opioids but with fewer side effects and better functionality. If only there was a program that allowed doctors to forgo the use of dangerous opioids and prescribe cannabis for the treatment of pain…. Well now they do! 


Doctors in Illinois can prescribe medical cannabis for short term control of pain via the Opioid Alternative Program.

3 Simple Steps

Become an Opioid Alternative Patient

To be eligible for this Illinois program, you must be an:

  • Illinois resident 21+ years of age
  • Currently or will be prescribed an opioid
  • CDL, school bus driver permit holders and existing Illinois medical cannabis program cardholder are not eligible

Your healthcare professional must complete a one-time online registration process here before certifying any patient for the Illinois Opioid Alternative Program. Patients must be re-certified every 90 days to continue with program.

After the healthcare professional has successfully registered themselves and certified the patient, the patient must then register and enroll online here. The patient will need the following items during the online registration process:

  • Valid Illinois driver’s license or state issued ID
  • Proof of address that matches ID (utility bill, voter’s registration card, bank statement, etc.)
  • 2″ x 2″ color passport photo
  • $10 application fee for each 90-day period (payable with debit, credit or prepaid card only)

Frequently Asked Questions

Opioid Alternative Program

  • Hydrocodone/APAP (Norco)
    • 5/325, 7.5/325 and 10/325 strengths
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Morphine
    • Morphine IR (immediate release)
    • MScontin (extended release)
  • Acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol #3 or #4)
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
    • Available in immediate/extended release
  • Tramadol (Ultram)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)

Your primary care physician should be who you approach first for this. Given they have both a license to practice medicine in Illinois and an Illinois Controlled Substances License, health care professionals that are permitted to certify patients include:

  • Doctors
  • Physician assistants
  • Advance practice nurses

Illinois opioid alternative patients can purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces (or 70.87 grams) in any 14-day period. For example, if an eighth of flower (3.5 grams) is purchased, that amount will be added back onto your limit on the 15th day. 

Unlike the Medical Cannabis Program, opioid alternative patients:

  • Cannot have a designated caregiver
  • Cannot grow their own cannabis
  • Cannot apply for allotment increase
  • Must be re-certified every 90 days

After your application has been submitted, you will receive a confirmation email in as little as ten minutes that contains an electronic 90-day medical cannabis card. Print and bring this (along with an Illinois drivers’ license or state issued ID) to the dispensary for immediate access to the facility so that you can make a purchase. 

If your healthcare professional agrees to continue your medical cannabis use in lieu of opioids, they must re-certify you online as previously instructed. Shortly thereafter, you can log back into your opioid alternative account and update your registration and pay $10 for the next 90-day period.

Registering For The OAPP

Frequently asked questions of prospective patients

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, opioid overdose is among one of the greatest public health crises to ever grip the state. The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program or OAPP was established as a means of combatting this sweeping epidemic by providing an avenue in which qualified individuals can obtain access to medical cannabis for their chronic pain management. In cases where an opioid would typically be prescribed, patients now have the option to seek out medical cannabis as an alternative medicine.

If you are currently an Illinois resident 21 years of age or older and are being prescribed an opioid (or have a medical condition that warrants one), you are an eligible candidate for obtaining medical cannabis via the OAPP. Those who are not eligible to participate in the OAPP include commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, bus driver permit holders, and current medical cannabis program participants. Also be mindful that OAPP patients cannot have a designated caregiver assigned to them to assist with medical cannabis use.  

Your first step will be consulting with your physician as they MUST certify you for the OAPP. A physician will confirm your diagnosis and submit their certification confidentially online to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for review. Once the physician has done so and it has been validated, you can now enroll online as an OAPP patient.

Participants must be re-certified by their physician every 90 days to continue with the program. A few items that will be necessary to complete the initial registration include: a valid email address, Illinois drivers’ license or state ID, electronic proof of address (utility bill, voter’s registration card, bank statement), electronic 2” x 2” color passport photo, debit/credit card for $10 payment for every 90-day period. 

If you will be selecting Herbal Remedies as your designated dispensary, our staff would be happy to help you during the application process. This includes everything from making sure you have the correct documentation, submitting of the application and even printing of your OAPP card. Simply give us a call at (217) 214-MEDS (6337) to arrange an appointment.

After your application has been submitted, you will receive a confirmation email in as little as ten minutes that contains an electronic 90-day OAPP medical cannabis card. Bring this (along with an Illinois drivers’ license or state issued ID) to the dispensary for immediate access to the facility so that you can make a purchase.  

If the need for medical cannabis for pain management remains, you will need to first schedule a visit with your physician so you can be re-certified. Shortly thereafter, you would log into your OAPP account and update your registration and again, pay the necessary $10 application fee.

cannabis and opioids

OAPP Resources for Patients & Healthcare Professionals

By entering this website, you acknowledge that you're 21+ years of age or have an Illinois medical cannabis card.