New Illinois law allows medical marijuana pain prescriptions as alternative to opioids

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Doctors in Illinois can now prescribe marijuana as a painkiller thanks to a new law intended to counter a growing opioid abuse epidemic.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law Tuesday allowing physicians to temporarily prescribe cannabis for pain relief, effective immediately.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 11,000 people have died from opioid overdoses since 2008. In 2016, opioid abuse killed nearly twice as many people as traffic accidents.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy was the House sponsor. The Chicago Democrat says the plan reforms pain treatment and provides more options to patients.

The law creates a pilot program which includes safeguards against the abuse of medical marijuana.

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