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Active adults in Illinois now have the opportunity to explore the health benefits of marijuana.

On January 1, 2020, the state of Illinois became the 11th in the nation to fully legalized medical and recreational marijuana for adult users. Many more states have decriminalized marijuana possession and medical marijuana usage, and cannabis laws continue to change. Now, active adults in Northern Illinois have the opportunity to choose whether marijuana use is right for them.

For active adults who want to learn more about marijuana, The Active Adult Guide to Cannabis provides an in-depth explanation of the key terms, types of products available, and health benefits. But since the laws and regulations can vary widely across each state, this guide focuses on how to take advantage of medical and recreational marijuana in Illinois. Continue reading for an overview of recreational and medical marijuana in Illinois.

The Health Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Older Adults

Since the law makes a distinction between medical cannabis and recreational cannabis, it’s important to understand the difference between these terms. Medical marijuana is dispensed to qualified patients through medical marijuana treatment centers, while recreational marijuana use requires no associated medical conditions. 

The use of cannabis is associated with alleviating chronic pain, migraine headaches, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and glaucoma. Medical marijuana has also been used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and multiple sclerosis because the therapeutic effects help ease some of the discomforts of these diseases.

Recent studies have found that 50+ active adults represent the fastest-growing population of cannabis users in the United States. This indicates that many active adults have considered how medical cannabis can alleviate their symptoms and help them maintain an active lifestyle.

How To Apply for Medical Cannabis 

In Illinois, active adults who want to use marijuana for medical purposes have to meet certain guidelines to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Active adults can be entitled to medical marijuana use if they've been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, have obtained written consent from their doctor, and can prove their residency in Illinois.

Currently, active adults can apply to be medical cannabis patients through an online application portal hosted by the Illinois Department of Public Health. According to the website, those who apply online will receive provisional access to a licensed dispensary within one day of submitting the application. 

Along with the necessary documents listed above, prepare to incur some costs. The fees for a medical cannabis card are $100 for one year, $200 for two years, and $250 for three years. Both veterans and active adults enrolled in the federal Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs can pay reduced rates.

Where To Get Cannabis in Illinois

In Illinois, active adults can purchase cannabis at approximately 40 licensed dispensaries across the state. As this interactive map shows, many of these dispensaries are located in Northern Illinois. However, over the next few years, the state will likely grant even more licenses to additional stores and processors, making it more accessible to residents.

For residents of the northwest suburbs who live in towns such as Elgin, Huntley, and Grayslake, there are several dispensaries in the area. Active adults can purchase cannabis at dispensaries like Nature’s Care in Rolling Meadows, Verilife in Arlington Heights, Sunnyside in Buffalo Grove, and RiSE in Mundelein.

Those who live in the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago near Naperville, Aurora, and Joliet can also find a range of options. Some of the licensed dispensaries in the area include 3C Compassionate Care Center in Naperville and Joliet, Verilife in North Aurora and Romeoville, and Greenhouse in Mokena. 

Of course, these dispensaries represent just a handful of places to buy medical and recreational marijuana in Illinois. Along with a high concentration of stores in the downtown area of Chicago, Northern Illinois active adults can find dispensaries throughout Cook County, Lake County, McHenry County, DuPage County, and Will County.

Legal Limits

Please note that the legal limit for the possession of cannabis flower is 30 grams, or about one ounce, and the legal limit for cannabis concentrate is 5 grams. Cannabis-infused products, which include edibles, come with a limit of 500 milligrams of THC. Licensed dispensaries can help explain these laws and help you find the products that are right for you.