The state of Illinois is moving to use cannabis to reduce opioid deaths.

The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program law was already passed in 2018 but finally took affect last Friday.

With a doctor’s approval, patients can now buy medical cannabis at a licensed dispensary instead of using prescribed opioids to treat pain.

The Government expects, that the law will double the number of medical cannabis users in the 12 months.

Pilot Program patient Tashena Altman, 31, was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease as a child and has been living with severe pain most of her life.

Have you ever had a Charley horse before? Think of that times 12, but you can get it in your eye, your legs, your neck, your face,

Altman said.

For 27-year-old Pilot Program patient Dan, it was old high school and college football injuries that left him with chronic pain.

Especially in the colder months, you feel all those old injuries popping back up, the past couple days I’ve been really hurting,

Dan said.

Both Altman and Dan were prescribed opioids, but both feared addiction and did not like the way the drugs made them feel. They turned to medical cannabis as an alternative.

Altman and Dan were the first patients to buy medical cannabis under the new law.

Nobody has ever overdosed on cannabis. As a policy maker, that’s a chance I’m willing to take if we can substitute a more benign medicine for a much more severe one,

said Illinois State Senator Don Harmon.

With certification from a doctor, the qualification process to very quick. Patients only need a copy of their driver’s license, a passport photo, proof of an Illinois address and it will cost them $10 to apply.

Patients can register and buy from a dispensary on the same day. Registrations are valid for 90 days and can be renewed.

I’m really excited to see what it could do to me to live my life comfortably,

Dan said.

The new plan coincides with Jim Carroll’s swearing-in as director of the White House Drug Control office.