The opioid crisis in the U.S. is harrowing. According to drugabuse.gov, every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.

Illinois is doing something to try and help the crisis. The state is planning to launch a pilot program at the end of the month that will give patients the option to choose medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids.

Meanwhile, there are medical marijuana dispensaries across the state preparing for the flurry of customers that it may receive once the program starts.

General manager of Mission South Shore dispensary Rick Armstrong remarked, “We want to be prepared if one patient comes in the door or 100 patients. We want to be there, ready to go.”

Patients can pre-qualify for the program by being certified by a physician. Then the patient is able to register for the program at a health department or dispensary in Illinois for $10. Patients will be required to see their physician every 90 days in order to renew their certification.

Recently appointed Governor J.B. Pritzker has also said during his inaugural address that he promises to legalize recreational marijuana.

Tim McAnarney from the lobbyist group, Healthy and Productive Illinois, said, “We don’t want to become California, where you stub your toe and get (medical marijuana). At some point you have to draw a line. Is it really for medical (reasons), or just to try to inch closer to complete legalization?”

“J.B. is committed to working with lawmakers to ensure medical cannabis regulations meet the medical needs of Illinoisans,” said Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. She added, “And looks forward to working with the General Assembly to continue making the program accessible to those who need it.”

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