Illinois Accepting Medical Marijuana Patient Applications

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Randy Livingston

WILLIAMSON CO. -- Illinois is getting closer to dispensing medical marijuana.The state started accepting the first patient and caregiver applications on Tuesday.

You can find the application here. 
 
The state is staggering the applications. People with last names that start with A through L can sign up. The rest will start in November. Some patients in southern Illinois are finding help from a local doctor's office.
 
More than 600 people have turned to Pied Pfeifer Compassionate Care Clinic in Marion. The primary care office is to help patients sign up for medical marijuana.
 
"It's been twice as busy now that we are publicly letting people know that we can write certification letters," said Office Manager Stephanie Dalton. 
 
To qualify at the clinic, you have to have a condition recognized by the state and be a patient for at least six months.
 
"We've had the phone calls and we've actually had people show up and think that we even have the marijuana here," said Dalton. "That's nothing near the case."
 
Dalton believes the clinic's openness about medical marijuana is a big relief for patients. Some are willing to travel a couple hours for an appointment.
 
"Either spoken to their physician and their physician isn't going to write the certification letter, or they don't feel comfortable discussing medical marijuana with their physician," said Dalton. 
 
In the next weeks, the state expects to receive hundreds of applications. However, medical marijuana won't be available until next year, and it's unclear how much it will cost.
 
"We're waiting to see exactly what burden patients will bear to participate in the system," said Chris Lindsey with the Marijuana Police Project. 
     
The Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C. believes the huge expense of growing or dispensing the drug under Illinois' pilot program might be passed on to patients. That could lead to a price well above illegal marijuana and paid out-of-pocket.
 
"No insurance carrier right now will cover any of the costs associated with access to medical marijuana," said Lindsey. "That's 100% out of the patient's pocket."
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