Illinois State Senator Don Harmon is set to introduce a bill to allow people prescribed opioids for a medical condition to apply for a temporary medical cannabis card instead in an effort to help curb the state’s opioid epidemic.
In a press release, Harmon, a Democrat, pointed to research that shows “medical cannabis is a safe alternative treatment for the same conditions for which opioids are prescribed.”
“Clearly what we’re doing now is not working,” Harmon said in a statement. “This is a problem that touches citizens in every corner of our state. Medical cannabis is the most readily available alternative, but we should consider any other option that reduces the carnage inflicted by the opioid epidemic.”
In Illinois, the opioid-related death rate has increased 120 percent from 2014 to 2015, and nationally opioid-related drug overdoses topped 60,000 in 2016 – higher than the total number of U.S. soldier fatalities during the Vietnam War, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention figures.
Harmon plans to introduce the legislation during the second week of the state’s veto session. Illinois legalized cannabis for medical use in 2013.