shutterstock 8129770 rSPRINGFIELD – Beginning today, Jan. 31, the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program will begin accepting patients, allowing patients over the age of 21 prescribed opioids temporary access to medical cannabis as an alternative treatment.

The program was created by Senate Bill 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act, sponsored by State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and signed into law in August 2018.

“Medical cannabis is proven to be a safe, effective alternative to treat conditions for which opioids are often prescribed,” Harmon said. “I am hopeful that this program will help stem the tide of the devastating opioid crisis in our state.”

Under the program, patients will obtain a physician’s certification that they have a condition for which an opioid could be prescribed. They may then take that to a dispensary to receive medical cannabis for a fixed period of time.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s rules regulating the program can be found on their website at