Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed two pieces of legislation that significantly increase the scope of Illinois’ medicinal marijuana program.

The state began a pilot scheme for medical cannabis in 2015 and it was due to expire next year, but Pritzker has now made it a permanent law by signing SB 2023. It also expands the list of qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card.

Autism, chronic pain, irritable bowl syndrome, migraines, osteoarthritis, anorexia nervosa, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Neuro-Behcet’s Autoimmune Disease, neuropathy, polycystic kidney disease, and superior canal dehiscence syndrome are now all on the list. It takes the number of qualifying conditions up to 52.

“Illinois’ medical cannabis program provides relief to more than 80,000 patients across the state, and today I’m proud to strengthen this critical program,” said Pritzker.

Recreational cannabis will become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020, so it made sense to permit medicinal use on a permanent basis.

Pritzker signed another bill that allows schoolchildren to consume medical cannabis themselves, under the supervision of an administrator or school nurse, if authorized by the students’ parents. Previously children in Illinois could only take it under their parents’ supervision.

The governor said that caused disruption in class and also in the workplace, as parents were forced to leave their offices in order to administer the medicine.

When states legalize adult-use marijuana, the number of patients participating in the medical cannabis program plummets, according to a data analysis by The Associated Press. It said that sometimes more than half of a state’s medical marijuana users switch to buying cannabis from adult-use dispensaries.

The number of medical marijuana patients in Illinois surged past 80,000 last month and that could dwindle next year. However, medical cannabis sales in Illinois are taxed at just 1%, whereas recreational users will have to pay between 20% and 35%, so there should be a considerable financial incentive for medical patients to stick with the program.

Patients will also be allowed to grow up to five plants at home, which should make it even cheaper for them to secure the medicinal cannabis they need.

Medical cannabis sales in Illinois have reached $386 million since the industry began in 2015, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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