Marijuana now possible pain alternative to addictive opioids in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a law allowing medical marijuana to be used as a painkiller instead of highly addictive opioids.

The law the Republican signed Tuesday is effective immediately. It allows physicians to temporarily prescribe cannabis for pain relief as a means to combat a growing opioid-addiction epidemic.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 11,000 people have died from opioid overdoses since 2008. Opioids caused nearly double the number of 2016 deaths 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 who would otherwise be faced with choosing addictive opioids.

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

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The bill was SB336 .

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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