Bill Lukitsch and Monique GarciaContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Patients with a prescription for opioids would temporarily qualify for the state’s medical marijuanaprogram under a bill the Illinois Senate passed Thursday.

Supporters say the idea is to give those in pain alternatives amid the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic. Opponents suggested the bill is an effort to help Illinois’ new medical marijuana dispensaries make money.

Under the proposal, patients would be allowed to take an opioid prescription and a signed doctor’s note into a marijuana dispensary and buy pot instead. The dispensary must verify approval from a doctor and ensure a patient is not already receiving medical marijuana through another means.

Patients then would receive a 12-month temporary card to buy medical marijuana, restricted to the current limit of no more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis during a two-week period. At the end of a year, a patient could apply for a more permanent medical marijuana card should his or her condition persist.

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