How to Get an Illinois Medical Marijuana Card


Even though medical cannabis was passed by the state of Illinois back in 2013 – and recreational cannabis in Summer 2019 – it’s only been somewhat recently that registered patients have been able to start buying legal cannabis products. In fact, applications for state-registered growers and sellers didn’t start until late 2014, and it usually takes between one and three years for everything to get up to a full-scale pace.

However, now that things are moving steadily, more and more medically-eligible patients are wondering how to get a medical marijuana card in Illinois. In this short guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know.

[Article update: The sale and use of recreational marijuana in Illinois will become legal as of January 1, 2020 for adults 21 years of age and older. However, it will still be beneficial for medically-qualified patients to apply for and obtain a medical marijuana card in the state. Keep reading to find out why.]

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As a Resident of Illinois, What is the process?

In addition to legalizing marijuana for medically-registered patients, Illinois also decriminalized pot back in 2016 for all individuals. Instead of potentially getting charged with a misdemeanor crime for the possession of marijuana, now all people get is a $200 fine — as long as they’re carrying 10 grams or less. (Keep in mind though that weed is still illegal in all amounts on a federal level).

Additionally, in Summer 2019 Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law that legalizes the sale, possession, and use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21 in the state. Starting on January 1, 2020, any adult over 21 will be able to legally purchase cannabis products. Illinois residents will be able to buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time, while non-residents will be able to buy up to 15 grams.

Until January 1, 2020 however, the possession, sale , and use of any form of cannabis in Illinois without a valid medical marijuana card will remain illegal. Further, qualified medical patients in IL will be afforded several benefits and financial incentives, so it may still be worthwhile to apply for an MMJ card in IL if you are qualified. Here’s how to do it.

The steps to obtain an MMJ Card in IL are as follows:

Step 1

The first step in obtaining a medical marijuana card in Illinois is to meet with a physician to discuss the possibility of using cannabis under one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions (see below for the full list).

medical marijuana illinois

Once a physician deems that medical marijuana is a viable treatment option, he or she will need to fill out a Physician Written Certification Form on your behalf, and mail it from their office to the Department’s Division of Medical Cannabis:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Medical Cannabis
535 W. Jefferson Street
Springfield, IL 62761

*(In-person applications will not be accepted at the above address).

The recommending physician will then need to provide documentation on the Certification Form that states the patient has been diagnosed with either a terminal illness, or one of the qualifying debilitating medical conditions (listed below).

Also, it is important to understand that the certification must be received within 90 days of the application, and must show an in-person visit date within the last 90 days.

(Please note that the state of Illinois does not provide a list of marijuana-recommending physicians. Also, consultation fees for the initial diagnosis and medical marijuana recommendation may vary).

Step 2

Once the Written Certification Form is completed and mailed by the recommending physician, individuals will need to print and fill out the Marijuana Card Application Form.

On the form, applicants must list their recommending physician’s name and address (i.e. the address of the physician who submitted the Certification Form), and also choose a medical marijuana dispensary where they’ll purchasing their cannabis products (a list of state-licensed dispensaries can be found here).

In addition to the completed application form, applicants will need to submit the following documents:

  • Non-refundable application fee payable by check or Money Order and made out to the Illinois Department of Public Health (see below for list of fees)
  • 2” x 2” photograph taken in the last 30 days (taken against a plain, white or off-white background in natural color, with full-face view directly facing the camera and a neutral facial expression with both eyes open (it’s recommended you use a passport photo vendor to ensure the photograph meets these requirements)
  • A completed copy of the Fingerprint Consent Form (fingerprints must be taken within 30 days of submitting an application), with the following supporting documents attached:
    • Proof of age and identity (a color photocopy of either an Illinois Driver’s License, Illinois State ID, or the photograph page of a US passport
    • Proof of Illinois residency (see list of required documents for options on how to prove residency)
    • Fingerprint receipt (A list of fingerprinting vendors can be found here – contact them beforehand to make sure they do Medical Cannabis fingerprinting. Also, remember to bring the Fingerprint Consent Form to your fingerprinting appointment – you will need to add the Transaction Control Number (TCN) to the form
    • Benefit Verification Letter from the Social Security Administration or DD-214 (*only if applicable – this is for applicants who are applying with reduced application fees)

Once all of the above documents are gathered and completed, applicants will need to mail them in an envelope along with the completed application form to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Medical Cannabis
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761-0001

Are There Any Other Requirements on How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois?

Yes.

  • Applicants must not have been convicted of a prior excluded offense (this shows up on the fingerprinting scan). Offences include a felony under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, Cannabis Control Act, or Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age
  • Applicants must not hold a school bus permit or Commercial Driver’s License
  • Applicants must not be an active duty law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, or firefighter.

If you have any further questions, you can contact the Illinois Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program representatives directly at 1-855-636-3688. Also please note that applications cannot be submitted online.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Medical Cannabis in Illinois?

When submitting the application, qualifying patients (or their caregivers) may apply for either a one, two, or three-year registry ID card. Application fees are as follows:

  • $100 for a 1-year ID card
  • $200 for a $2-year ID card
  • $250 for a $3-year ID card

Applicants who receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may qualify for a reduced fee application, in which case the fees are:

  • $50 for a 1-year ID card
  • $100 for a 2-year ID card
  • $125 for a 3-year ID card

*(If you are enrolled in SSDI or SSI, you will need to submit a “Benefit Verification Letter” from the Social Security Administration along with your application that shows your name and address, and the type of benefits that you receive).

Also, please note that neither health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare will cover costs associated with the application for the use of medical cannabis.

For caregivers, the application fees are as follows:

  • $25 for a 1-year ID card
  • $25 for a 1-year ID card
  • $50 for a 2-year ID card
  • $75 (Caregiver applying separately for a patient who has already been registered – the expiration date for the caregiver and the patient card will be the same)

*Persons that are diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six (6) months or less may apply for a medical cannabis registry identification card valid for six months. There is no application fee.

*Also please note the application process for Veterans is different than the process for regular Illinois citizens. Veterans who receive health services at a Veteran’s Administration (VA) facility are NOT required to obtain a physician’s written certification. Rather, they must submit 12 months of VA records to the Department of Public Health (Division of Medical Cannabis) with their application. Click here for the process of applying for medical marijuana in Illinois as a veteran.

*The process of applying for medical marijuana in Illinois as a minor (under the age of 18) is also different – please check here for guidelines.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Get a Medical Marijuana Card Online (in Minutes)

How Long Will It take to Receive My Medical Marijuana Card?

The Illinois Department of Public Health does not respond to inquiries about the status of applications for medical marijuana. All applications are reviewed based on the date received – if additional documents are needed, you’ll receive a letter from the program asking for more information, along with instructions on how to submit them.

That being said, Illinois is notorious for having one of the more difficult medical marijuana programs, and users have commented that the office is difficult to get ahold of.

One of our readers, for example, commented that the Department of Public Health only processes 1,000 new applications a month – if you applied at the end of the month, your application may have been put on backlist for processing the following month.

Illinois Division of Medical Marijuana Program representatives are available by phone at
1-855-636-3688, and can also be reached via e-mail at DPH.medicalcannabis@illinois.gov.

Illinois Qualifying Conditions for an MMJ Card (And Other FAQ’s)

Qualifying patients must be diagnosed with a debilitating condition, as defined in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, to be eligible for a medical cannabis registry identification card in Illinois.

illinois medical marijuana

  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • 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
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome

*Note that individuals who wish to apply for a medical marijuana card in Illinois, but DO NOT have one of the above qualifying conditions, may fill out and submit a Petition to Add Debilitating Condition form.

What is the status of my application?

To find out the status of your request, you may email IDPH at DPH.medicalcannabis@illinois.gov

How Do I Get a Renewal?

You will receive a letter from the Department of Health 60–90 days prior to the expiration of your current medical marijuana card, with options for renewal. If your card expires and you have not extended it, you will be required to go through the new application process.

Check the state’s full list of renewal guidelines here.

I’m From Out of State, How to I Buy Medical Marijuana?

Out of state medical marijuana patients will not be able to purchase cannabis in Illinois dispensaries, even if they have a current/valid registration card from their home state. Only medical patients with a valid Illinois MMJ ID card are eligible to purchase weed from a state-licensed dispensary.

How much Medical Marijuana Can I purchase?

There are currently no posted guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health with regard to how much cannabis a registered cardholder can purchase or possess at any one time. We recommend getting in touch with a local dispensary, or giving program representatives a call at 1-855-636-3688. We have heard, however, that the office is difficult to get ahold of.

Can I Take My Meds to a Different State?

No. Medical marijuana patients may face federal and local charges of transporting marijuana if they cross state lines with the drug. This is true even if the states between which they are traveling allow medical marijuana. Should you need to travel with your marijuana it would be best to contact the state’s Bureau of health to understand the exact laws of the state you are traveling to in order to not risk breaking the law.

Related Article: How to Get Your Medical Marijuana Card By State

Who Can Use Medical Marijuana?

Patients must be at least 18 years of age.

Can I use Medical Marijuana Anywhere?

It is important to remember marijuana consumption is illegal on a Federal Level. It is advised to consume your medicine responsibly according to the laws of the state.

How Much Should I Consume?

We are not doctors or physicians, and therefore you should always consult with a professional before using.

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Additional Update