Legislation History

Illinois passed its first cannabis legislation in 1931 during the height of marijuana prohibition. Cannabis use remained illegal until the Cannabis Control Act of 1978. While this law technically legalized medical cannabis, the Department of Human Services and the State Police never crafted regulations. Finally, in 2013, Illinois passed its first viable medical cannabis law.


In August 2013, Former Governor Pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. This bill legalized the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana in the state and charged the Departments of Public Health, Agriculture and Financial and Professional Regulation with composing the rules necessary to implement the pilot program.


Illinois started accepting applications for patients, dispensing centers and cultivation centers in September 2014. Dispensaries began their first sales to qualified patients in the following November. Historically, Illinois’ medical cannabis is known as one of the most restrictive in the U.S. Recent legislative changes have opened up the program to many more patients.

Since 2013, the Act has since been amended to extend the expiration of the pilot program from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2020, allowing the state agencies more time to finalize the Medical Cannabis Program’s rules. Governor Bruce Rauner also signed legislation that allowed minors under 18 to use medical cannabis, added seizures, PTSD and terminal illness to qualifying conditions, and allowed people with opioid prescriptions to qualify for medical cannabis use.

In 2016, the state decriminalized possession of cannabis less than 10 grams with a $100-200 fine, making small-time possession no longer a misdemeanor.

Regulation Authority

Illinois Department of Public Health regulates the medical marijuana program on behalf of patients, caregivers, and physicians. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is responsible for regulating dispensing centers, of which 55 operate state-wide. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has licensed 21 cultivation centers throughout the state.

Purchasing and Consuming Cannabis in Illinois

Registered patients and caregivers may legally purchase medical cannabis at a dispensing center. Medical patients are responsible for a 1% pharmaceutical tax, while cultivators and dispensaries must pay a 7% wholesale tax per sale. Patients and caregivers may purchase up to two and a half ounces (2.5 oz) of usable cannabis per 14-day period.

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Qualifying patients may only purchase medical cannabis from their chosen dispensary, as indicated in their initial registry application form. A patient can change their selected dispensary at any time free of charge by completing the Medical Cannabis Selection Form.


Only patients with a valid medical marijuana registry ID card may consume cannabis for medical use. Patients may use cannabis flower, edibles, tinctures, concentrates, drinks, capsules, topicals, and oils as valid consumption methods.


Cannabis consumption is prohibited in any public place or where would reasonably endanger the health or well-being of another person. Patients are prohibited on consuming cannabis on school grounds, with the exception of minor students who may bring their medicine to school and consume under the supervision of a parent, guardian or caretaker.


Patients may not use their cannabis inside public transportation or at public parks or beaches. Cannabis use is prohibited in the workplace, as well as in correctional facilities or medical facilities.


Do not consume medical marijuana before driving or operating any vehicle or where undertaking tasks that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice. Violators are subject to similar consequences as in alcohol-related DUI offenses.


Patients may possess up to two and one-half ounces (2.5 oz.) of cannabis or cannabis products during any 14-day period. Registry cardholders can transport cannabis inside secured, sealed containers that are inaccessible while driving. Neither driver nor passenger may consume cannabis inside a vehicle.


Schools, employers, and landlords may not refuse enrollment, employ or to lease to an individual solely based on their status as a patient or caregiver.


Patients may not gift medical cannabis to other registered patients. Caregivers can only purchase or possess cannabis medicine on behalf of their designated patient.

Home Cultivation

Patients and caregivers may not cultivate their own cannabis or manufacture cannabis products. All cannabis medicine must be sold and distributed through licensed dispensing centers.

Illinois Medical Marijuana Registry

The Illinois Department of Public Health oversees the state’s Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program. Patients can visit the Department of Public Health’s website, email the department directly, or call a representative of the Medical Cannabis Program during weekdays for more information.

Qualifying Conditions

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Spinal cord disease, including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and post-concussion syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia
  • Patients with valid opioid prescriptions
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
  • Parkinson’s
  • Tourette’s
  • Myoclonus
  • Dystonia
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I)
  • Causalgia
  • CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II)
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Residual limb pain
  • Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy), or the treatment of these conditions

Patient qualifications

Patient must be a resident of Illinois and remain a resident during their participation in the medical cannabis program. Individuals must have one of the above qualifying conditions and obtain a written certification from a recommending physician licensed to practice medicine in Illinois. This form is provided to patients as a part of their complete application for a medical cannabis registry card.


Veterans receiving care from the VA office need not submit a physician’s certification. Instead, they must provide medical records from the VA facility documenting the last 12 months of treatment. These records can be requested electronically or by mail and must be submitted with the patient’s medical marijuana application form.


Minor medical marijuana patients must first obtain a physician’s certification in the course of a bona-fide physician-patient relationship that confirms the patient has a qualifying medical condition. A reviewing physician must then review the patients’ medical history and confirm the patient was correctly diagnosed. Both forms must be submitted with a minor’s complete medical cannabis registry application.


A minor may designate one (1) caregiver at no charge inside their own application and may add a second caregiver by submitting a caregiver application and a $75 fee. Minor patients may only use cannabis-infused products.


Registry Process

  1. Receive a written certification from a doctor to confirm the diagnosis of a qualifying debilitating condition, to be submitted with the medical cannabis application form.
  2. Complete and sign the state’s medical cannabis application form. This form requires prospective patients to choose the dispensary they will visit and to designate a caregiver, as needed. Patients can change their chosen dispensary at a later date.
  3. Pay an application fee. Prospective patients applying for a one-year card pay $100, while the fee for a two (2) year card is $200 and the fee for three (3) year card is $250. The Department of Public Health has halved these amounts for veterans and patients with disabilities.
  4. Include a passport-sized photo taken in front of a plain, white backdrop.
  5. Prove Illinois residency with two separate documents. Copies of utility bills, bank statements, state IDs, driver’s licenses and voter ID cards are acceptable forms of identification.
  6. Prove age and identity with a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID.
  7. Include a caregiver application, the accompanying fee, and other forms if a patient requires a caregiver.
  8. If patients are being treated at a Veterans Affairs facility, they can send 12 months of medical records from the VA in the place of a physician’s written certification.

As of August 2018, patients with a prescription for opioids can apply for the medical marijuana program online with a doctor’s written certification. These patients will receive a temporary receipt, which they can present to a dispensary to buy medical cannabis while their applications are in process.

Caregiver qualifications

A registered caregiver is someone licensed to provide assistance to a register qualifying patient with the purchase and use of medical cannabis. To assist a patient, caregivers must carry a medical cannabis registry cards after meeting a set of specified qualifications.


Caregivers must be over the age of 21 and submit to a background check, proving they have never been convicted of a felony. Caregivers must also prove their Illinois residency and agree in writing to assist the patient. Registered caregivers mays serve only one (1) patient at a time, and can receive no compensation for their services.

Registry process

  1. Submit a caregiver application either with the designated patient’s application submission or independently at a later date.
  2. Pay an application fee. A one (1) year registry card costs $25, while a two (2) year cord costs $50 and a three (3) year card costs $75. Any caregiver registering after a patient has received their registry card will pay a $75 application fee for a card that expires when the patient’s does.
  3. Include a passport-sized photo taken in front of a plain, white backdrop
  4. Prove Illinois residency with two separate documents. Copies of utility bills, bank statements, state IDs, driver’s licenses and voter ID cards are acceptable forms of identification.
  5. Prove age and identity with a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID.
  6. Provide a fingerprint receipt, with fingerprint scan completed with 30 days of submitting the caregiver application.

 Medical Patient Providers

Physicians are responsible for providing written certifications that confirm that a patient has a qualifying debilitating condition that qualifies him or her for medical cannabis use.


To provide a written certification, physicians must complete a full, in-person assessment of the patient’s medical history and current condition in the course of a bonafide physician-patient relationship. The written certification must also state that the patient is in the physician’s continuing care for the treatment of the qualifying debilitating condition.


State law requires that a patient must be a resident of Illinois to hold a medical marijuana registry ID card and to purchase cannabis from a dispensing center. Dispensing centers may only sell cannabis to cardholders of the Illinois Medical Marijuana Registry Program.

Lab Testing

All cannabis and cannabis-infused products must be made available for lab testing as required by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Cannabis and cannabis products must be tested for cannabinoid profiles, pesticides, microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, and residual solvents.

Licensing for Growers, Manufacturers, Processors, Retailers etc.

Licenses for dispensing centers and cultivation centers are regulated by separate authorities within Illinois. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation granted licenses to 55 medical marijuana dispensaries across the state, many of which are located in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.


Additionally, the Illinois Department of Agriculture permitted 21 cultivation centers to grow marijuana legally. Cultivation centers may only sell or distribute cannabis products to licensed dispensing centers or approved testing laboratories.


At this time, Illinois is not granting additional licenses to prospective dispensaries or cultivation centers. In the beginning phases of the medical marijuana pilot program, dispensing centers and cultivation centers had to submit application forms and be approved for licensure.


Existing cultivation centers must renew their license annually and submit a renewal fee of $100,000. Existing dispensing centers must renew their license annually and submit a renewal fee of $25,000. All employees of both cultivation centers and dispensing centers must hold the corresponding agent identification card, procured through the state application


This page was last updated on January 7, 2019.