VETERANS AND MEDICAL CANNABIS: TOP TIPS FOR OBTAINING YOUR ILLINOIS MEDICAL CANNABIS CARD
By: Edward M. Farmer, Esq.
- Have a qualifying condition. To be eligible for a medical cannabis card in Illinois, you must be diagnosed with one of debilitating conditions as defined by the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. Some of the approved conditions that are prevalent in the Veteran community are discussed below. Other conditions can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health website.
Amoytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Veterans are at a statistically significant greater risk of developing ALS compared to civilians. Service connection by presumption is available for any veteran that develops ALS at any time after discharge.
Hepatitis C: A large number of Vietnam Era Veterans are infected with Hepatitis C from the re-using of syringes and lancing devices by Military healthcare personnel.
Multiple Sclerosis: If symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis develop within seven years of discharge, it is presumed to have been incurred in service.
Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s is a condition presumed related to Agent Orange exposure. It is also presumed to have been incurred in service if symptoms manifest within one year after discharge.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): According to statistics on the VA’s website, PTSD occurs in 10 percent of Gulf War veterans and in about 30 percent of Vietnam veterans.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): TBI has been found to be more prevalent in veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan in support of Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom. The increased incidence of TBI in veterans who served in these conflicts has been linked to exposure to blasts from improvised explosive devices.
Severe fibromyalgia: Many Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans suffer from Fibromyalgia, one of the conditions thought to be caused by exposure to biological and environmental hazards in Southwest Asia.
- Physician Written Certification may not be needed. Where you receive your medical care depends on whether or not you need a physician certification.
Veterans Receiving Care from a Private Physician: If you receive care from a private physician, ask them to complete the Physician’s Written Certification Form. The physician does not have to prescribe or recommend medical cannabis for your condition. The physician must certify that the Veteran is under their care for one of the qualifying conditions. An in-person medical examination must be within 90 days of submitting your application.
Veterans Receiving Care at the Veterans Health Administration: VA physicians are prohibited from completing the Physician’s Written Certification Form. Therefore, Veteran’s receiving care at the VA can bypass the doctor’s certification by providing a copy of your DD-214 and their most recent 12 months of VA health records which shows their qualifying condition and ongoing care. Records can be retrieved at myhealth.va.gov or by sending in VA Form 10-5345a to the VA facility which you receive treatment.
- Veterans qualify for reduced application fee: Fill in all parts of the application, choose a dispensary and sign the last page. Select a one, two, or three year fee. Veterans receive fifty percent off their application fees! Make sure to include a copy of your DD-214.
- Send a proper photograph. A selfie won’t work for the application! Visit a business that provides passport photos (i.e. Walgreens). You want a 2 x 2 inch passport photo. You must be facing the camera, with your full-face showing. The picture must be taken against a plain, white backdrop with absolutely nothing in the background.
- Don’t forget your fingerprints! Contact a live scan fingerprint vendor that provides Medical Cannabis fingerprints. Remember to bring the fingerprint consent form to the vendor and add the Transaction Control Number (TCN) to your form. Once you have your fingerprints taken, the fingerprint consent form and the receipt provided by the live scan fingerprint vendor containing the TCN must be sent in with your application. Fingerprints must be taken within 30 days of submitting your application
- Provide proof of residency. You must be an Illinois resident to receive Illinois medical cannabis. You need two items to prove that you live in Illinois. The addresses on each of the documents must match the address on your application. Bank statements, utility bills, state ID, driver’s license and voter ID cards are all acceptable. If you are a homeless Veteran, complete the homeless status certification found on www.cyberdriveillinois.com
The above are only tips for Veterans applying for Illinois medical cannabis cards. Additional requirements may be necessary. If you have questions, please check with the Illinois Division of Medical Cannabis before sending your application.
Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and attorney. A majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans. More information regarding Edward and his law firm can be found at www.vetlawoffice.com
The material and information contained on these pages and on any pages linked from these pages are intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying upon any of the information presented here.