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Seriously sick kids can apply to use medical marijuana starting Jan. 1

Details were released Tuesday about the medical marijuana program for children under 18. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Seriously ill children seeking to use medical marijuana can begin to apply to the program Jan. 1, state officials said Tuesday in new guidelines.

Those under 18 with certain medical conditions, including those with epilepsy and cancer, will be able to use non-smokeable marijuana products next year.

Adults who have been diagnosed with at least one of about 40 conditions allowed by law, have been applying to the program since September. The law that allows children to participate will take effect Jan. 1.

In order to apply, two doctors will have to sign off that the child will benefit from using medical marijuana. The child also needs a custodial parent or guardian to sign on as the designated caregiver. The child won’t have to undergo a fingerprinted-based background check, but the adult caregiver will. The application fee is $100.

Dan Linn, the executive director of marijuana advocacy group NORML Illinois, worries the two-doctor requirement is an “unnecessary burden.”

“I think you’re going to see parents struggling to find not just two doctors, but one doctor who is willing to go on the record,” he said.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this month that some adult patients are having a hard time getting the necessary doctor recommendation for the program.

The new details were published as emergency rules, which are in effect for 150 days. The guidelines will have to go through a legislative oversight committee for final approval.