How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Illinois

Anthony Pellegrino
September 30, 2021

The information is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve readers of their obligation to obtain qualified medical, legal or other professional advice.

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In 2019, Illinois made history when it became the first to entirely legalize marijuana through the state legislature. At first, the Illinois General Assembly legalized medical marijuana with the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013. Since then, Illinois patients, for the first time, had access to medical marijuana treatments, so long as they had one of the qualifying medical conditions. 

The Department of Public Health began processing the first applications for patients, growers, and vendors in September of 2014. Since then, over 140,000 state residents have enrolled in the MMJ program.

The General Assembly legalized recreational marijuana in 2019. Now recreational cannabis is available to adults over 21 in Illinois. But being a medical marijuana patient still has its benefits and the process for becoming a registered patient is pretty straightforward. 

We'll go over the benefits of having a medical marijuana card in Illinois and how to become a medical marijuana patient in this guide.


A NggMD medical marijuana evaluation costs only $99 in Illinois.



How to Become a Medical Marijuana Patient in Illinois

Illinois patients must do the following to enroll in the state MMJ program:

1.) Visit a state-licensed MMJ doctor to receive a medical marijuana evaluation. You can do this completely online due to COVID exceptions. NuggMD provides online medical marijuana telemedicine evaluations for just $99. 

2.) Get your Illinois MMJ recommendation from your evaluating physician. You must have a qualifying condition for your doctor to recommend cannabis to you, but the list is fairly exhaustive and includes chronic pain and over 50 other conditions that you can find below in this guide.

3.) Go to Illinois's medical marijuana program website and complete your application with the Medical Cannabis Patient Program.

For this application to be approved by the Department of Public Health, patients must:

  • Have proof of residency in Illinois,
  • Have a valid MMJ recommendation from a licensed physician,
  • Be 18 or older,
  • Not have an effective school bus permit or CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), 
  • Work outside active duty law enforcement, including correctional officers, probation officers, and firefighters.


How to See an Illinois Medical Marijuana Doctor with NuggMD

Getting an MMJ recommendation in Illinois with NuggMD is easy!

1) Create an account on our website at www.nuggmd.com/illinios.

2) Enter all the required personal information (your name, age, and address.)

3) Include as much of your medical history as you can. The medical records you share with NuggMD remain private and are protected under both HIPAA and Illinois state law. 

4) Enter your payment information.

5) Relax momentarily in the virtual NuggMD waiting room.

6) Your Illinois state-licensed MMJ physician will connect with you as soon as they've had a chance to review your records. 

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. This is your time and your evaluation and NuggMD's physicians love to educate their patients about cannabis and how it may interact with their condition.

As soon as you've been approved for MMJ use, you'll receive your PDF certification via email. This email will also come with detailed instructions for navigating the Illinois MMJ program application process. And if you need additional assistance outside of these instructions, you can always contact NuggMD's customer care team. We're here to help.


An Illinois NuggMD MMJ telemedicine evaluation costs just $99.


What Cannabis Consumption Methods are Available in Illinois?

Luckily, Illinois adult residents and MMJ patients can use any of the popular forms of marijuana, from smoking and vaping flowers and concentrates to eating edibles or applying topicals. Some of these forms are more psychoactive than others, and they all have different onset and peak times. 

The 3 main consumption methods are:

  • Inhalation
  • Oral
  • Topical


Inhalation

Inhaled marijuana smoke or vapor allows the fastest rate of onset. The THC will enter your bloodstream directly from your lungs. Time of onset is usually 2 to 15 minutes. The effects can peak at between 30 and 90 minutes, and mostly wear off after about 180 minutes. These times can vary widely though and even fall outside of these parameters depending on the personal chemistry and tolerance of the user. 

Oral

This is the slowest common method of administration. When eaten, cannabis must be processed by the liver before it's absorbed. This produces a different psychoactive compound in our bodies. When smoked or vaped, we're consuming delta-9 THC. When eaten, our liver converts the cannabis into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is much more potent and psychedelic

Time of onset for edibles is roughly 20 minutes to 2 hours. Peak can be anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours or more. The high can last as little as 3 hours for some and 8 hours for others or even more with very heavy doses. This all depends on whether you ate food with your dose, what you ate, how efficiently you process THC and what dose and type of edibles you consumed along with your tolerance level.  

Topical

Topical cannabis is a preferred method for those who don't like the cannabis high or are treating a particular skin condition. It's vital to remember that some topicals are absorbed through the skin however. Certain transdermal patches, for instance, can make you feel high. So check with your doctor or dispensary before trying a patch if you're unsure of the effects.


What Does Marijuana Feel Like?

Generally speaking, nearly everyone knows about the calming effects of marijuana. Feelings of relaxation, quietness, giggling, and increased appetite are almost as famous as the plant itself. All of these are actual effects of marijuana. However, they are not the only ones. Given the fact that there are countless distinct strains today, it should not be surprising there are a wide range of possible effects.

Common subjective effects of cannabis use are:

  • A distorted sense of time (maybe sped up or slowed down), 
  • A feeling of increased lethargy or tiredness,
  • An elevated sense of humor (everything is is funnier),
  • Heightened feelings of happiness and satisfaction,
  • Loss of concentration
  • Intense relaxation or calm
  • Some moderate and brief short-term lapses in memory.

It's also possible for some to feel unpleasant effects from marijuana, especially when consumed in larger doses. Often, if a new user has a low tolerance, anxiety may arise. Patients could also potentially experience some derealization or depersonalization. This refers to the experience that one is detached from reality or feels as if they're in a dream or trance. These feelings, in and of themselves, may be distressing to some. The particular subjective effects of marijuana depend upon the individual. 


What if My Recommended Dose is Too Strong? 

First, always contact your doctor immediately if you feel that something isn't right. 

Second, don't panic. Consuming too much marijuana for one's tolerance will most likely inspire some anxiety or paranoia. The proper dosage differs dramatically amongst people based on their individual bodies and tolerances. People are also capable of processing THC differently. All this means is that one particular dose can affect you very differently than your friends. As a matter of fact, some patients find that they are intoxicated after only 2.5mg or less of THC. Others can consume hundreds of milligrams at a time and barely feel the effects.  The tolerances are so widely varied that most find some experimentation is necessary to find the most therapeutic dose.

As such, if you're relatively new to marijuana use, it would be wise to take it slow, at first. Experiment with lower dosages and work your way up as you get a better sense of your personal tolerance. It's a good idea to discuss specific dosages and tolerance in detail with your doctor during your evaluation. As questions if you're not clear because dosage is very, very important for getting the most benefit from medical marijuana.

If you accidentally consume too much weed and start feeling anxious, remember not to be embarrassed! It happens to most people who consume cannabis at one time or another. If you feel as though you need some company, call a friend to come to visit. In fact, it's a good idea to have a sympathetic friend who understands cannabis on standby the first time you try it. 

Luckily, any unpleasant feelings shouldn't last long. Generally speaking, marijuana effects will start to dissipate completely after 90 to 180 minutes after smoking. Be aware that edibles, however, can take much longer to wear off. 

Finally, if you felt anxious after having used the dosage recommended by your doctor, be sure to contact them to have it adjusted. Don't be surprised if your tolerable dosage is lower than the state-mandated upper limit of 10mg per dose. There are many products available in 2.5 or 5mg doses for this very reason.

Also, some patients find that having high-potency CBD products on hand helps to provide relief because CBD can mute the effects of THC. 

The motto for new cannabis users should always be “start low and go slow." Remember, you can always take more, but you can't take less. 


* A Note About Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) isn't a well known condition. We aren't even sure what causes it yet, although it's theorized that CHS is caused by overstimulation of the cannabinoid receptors in the body by overly-potent cannabis products. 

Onset generally happens in three stages:

Prodromal: This phase can last from months to years. During this stage, the patient feels mild abdominal pain and nausea. Unfortunately, this often prompts the patient to use even more cannabis to treat the symptoms and can exacerbate the condition.

Hyperemetic: During the phase, the patient will begin to vomit profusely. Both food and water intake will decrease and dehydration can result. This can become extremely dangerous. It's vital to seek medical help right away if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms.

Recovery: Patients with CHS will not recover until cannabis use stops. Once it does, most patients experience relief in days, although full recovery can take months. If cannabis use begins again, it's likely the CHS will return. 

No one knows yet why this happens to some people who use cannabis on a regular basis, but not to others. It's also very confusing for patients to hear that cannabis can cause nausea and vomiting when those are often the symptoms they're trying to relieve. But as with most substances we ingest, effectiveness is measured on a bell curve. In other words, moderation appears to be key.

While  CHS is very rare, it's important to understand that it exists and that there are risks associated with cannabis consumption. Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor in detail and follow up if you experience this or any other unexpected symptoms.

 

Following Cannabis Laws in Illinois

Cannabis is available for both recreational and medical use in Illinois.

Adult Illinoians 21 and over can legally have up to 30 grams of cannabis flower (that's a little more than an ounce), and up to 5 grams of concentrate. The possession limit for infused products, such as edibles or tinctures, is up to 500mg of THC.

Visitors to the state, who don't reside permanently in Illinois, can legally possess up to half that amount while in the state.  Do not try to take any of this home to your home state however, as it's still federally illegal.

Medical patients can possess 2.5 times as much cannabis as recreational users can (up to the allowed 2.5 ounce purchase limit for patients). If a dispensary is in short supply and must limit sales, they're required to allow medical patients a purchase limit that is 2.5 times higher than recreational purchasers. 

Recreational users are not allowed to grow cannabis in Illinois. State-registered medical marijuana patients on the other hand can grow up to five plants. There are additional cultivation rules which you can read in Illinois' medical marijuana law (full text). You'll find the rules for personal cultivation starting on pages 11, 12, 13 and pages 40 &41. You must be both a registered patient AND 21 or older to cultivate in Illinois. Registered cannabis patients under the age of 21 are not allowed to grow cannabis. 

Smoking in public isn't allowed. It's also illegal to operate a motor vehicle or other heavy machinery while high. You'd receive a DUI just as if you were under the influence of alcohol. Don't drive high or even slightly buzzed. 


Need Help? NuggMD's Customer Service Team is Here for You!

Our customer support team is reachable from 8am till 10pm daily, so don't hesitate to contact us if you're having issues.

If the support team cannot help you solve your problem, you can consult some of the resources below. Whether you're having an issue or not, these resources can help you stay up-to-date on the latest cannabis information in the state.

Additional Resources


Frequently Asked Questions About Medicinal Marijuana in Illinois


How much will a NuggMD medical marijuana evaluation cost patients?

All medical evaluations using NuggMD are $99 in the state of Illinois. There's no charge, however, if you're not approved for medical cannabis use. So there's no risk!

How can Illinois residents find a local medicinal cannabis physician licensed to conduct MMJ evaluations in the state? 

NuggMD is happy to help Illinois patients with their MMJ evaluations. Patients can easily find a qualified doctor to evaluate them using our platform. Every one of our partnering physicians is fully licensed in Illinois. All have received the necessary training and certification by the state. 

How long are MMJ certifications valid in Illinois? 

Unlike some other states, Illinois gives its patients options when it comes to their certification length. During your application process with the Department of Public Health, you will be asked to choose between 1, 2, or 3 year certification periods. When patients select 1 or 2 years, they can renew their certification until the 3 year period has passed. It just costs $50 to renew. After 3 years, however, patients must be re-evaluated by an MMJ physician.

Does NuggMD have a refund policy?

Yes, NuggMD does have a refund policy. You can receive a refund with NuggMD under the following conditions: if a patient does not receive the documents associated with their medical marijuana recommendation within 30 days after their evaluation, then they will be entitled to a full refund. To do so, patients just need to send an email to our customer service team at support@getnugg.com, with the subject line "refund request." Be sure to include a brief description of your problem, as well. Our customers here at NuggMD are our #1 priority, and we are always striving to make sure that they are all 100% satisfied with our platform. If not, all will get their money back, guaranteed! You should be aware, though, that as soon as your refund is processed, NuggMD is legally obligated to remove any authorizations for medical marijuana you may have. This means that you will not be able to obtain medical marijuana at a dispensary.

Is it possible to give marijuana as a gift in Illinois? 

Yes, you can. It is perfectly legal to give and receive marijuana in the form of a gift. However, the recipient must be 21 or older, and absolutely no money can be exchanged at any point. Gifts must be within legal possession limits as well. Bartering with marijuana is a crime in Illinois unless licensed by the state.

How long does it take for Illinois to process a medical marijuana registration?

Patients should expect the Illinois Department of Public Health to take up to 30 business days to fully process a medical marijuana application. Once approved, the MMJ IDs within 15 business days.

What kinds of marijuana products are available to Illinois patients?

The Illinois MMJ program allows all of the usual forms of cannabis products, including flower, capsules, edibles, concentrates, tinctures and oils.

What is the legal age for marijuana purchases in Illinois? 

Residents must be over the age of 21 to be able to buy recreational marijuana in Illinois.

Do patients need to live in Illinois to become MMJ patients in the state? 

Yes, all patients will need proof of residency to be approved. 

Can residents use marijuana in public places?

No, using marijuana products (of any kind) in public is a crime in Illinois. 

Be aware, Illinois also considers your front porch to be a public place. Illinois residents must be on private property to use marijuana products.

Are there marijuana delivery services in Illinois? 

At this time, there are not any delivery services available. 

Are out-of-state visitors allowed to bring marijuana back home with them? 

No, because marijuana is still a federally scheduled substance, transporting it over state lines is a felony. Doing so may put you at risk of federal prosecution.

What are the cannabis purchasing limits in Illinois? 

So long as residents can provide verification of their age and residency, they can purchase the following: no more than 30 grams of flower (a little over an ounce), 5 grams of concentrate, or infused products with no more than 500mg of THC.

MMJ patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of flower.

If a dispensary has set their purchase limit lower than this, they must allow medical marijuana patients to buy 2.5 times more than the adult use limit. This is to ensure an adequate supply for the patients. 

Out-of-state visitors are allowed to buy marijuana as well, but can only buy half as much as adult-use residents. 

Is marijuana cultivation allowed in Illinois?

Marijuana cultivation is legal only for licensed medical patients, who are allowed up to 5 plants. No other Illinois resident can legally grow, however. 

Can patients buy marijuana on the internet? 

No, online marijuana purchases are still illegal in the state. 

How can I get in contact with the Illinois medical cannabis program?

Patients can contact Illinois MMJ officials by mail at:

Illinois Department of Health

535 W Jefferson St, Springfield, IL 62761

By phone:

(217) 782-4977

By email:

DPH.medicalcannabis@illinois.gov

Or by visiting their website:

‍https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/



Anthony Pellegrino
Anthony Pellegrino is a freelance journalist, writer, and content marketing strategist. He is currently studying to get his B.A. in philosophy at Fort Hays State University. He is a content creator for several marketing agencies, brands, and tech startups. His writing is focused on content marketing, technology, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, politics, career planning, and of course, cannabis. Academically, Anthony is focused on A.I., Consciousness, Social Sciences, and Philosophy.

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