Qualifying conditions include dozens of maladies, from autism to rheumatoid arthritis to migraines. The Illinois Department of Public Health has approved nearly 91,000 patients for medical cannabis use since the program started.
More than 4,500 Illinois doctors certified patients for medical marijuana between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, the health department said.
Some doctors are making it clear that they don’t want to just certify patients in need of pot; they want to be those patients’ first call when they’re sick or in need of medical advice.
“The patient comes in for the medical (marijuana) card and then ends up staying,” said Dr. Mauricio Consalter, a primary care doctor at Medici Health Care in Chicago’s Wicker Park and Andersonville neighborhoods.
Consalter has been practicing at Medici for four years. His practice does not take health insurance, instead charging a flat fee for patients who receive certification. Marijuana use is still illegal at the federal level, and health insurance does not cover medical cannabis, meaning patients must pay out-of-pocket to purchase it from dispensaries.
“It’s going to be part of any family primary care practice in the future,” Consalter said.
Khare, a former hospital emergency room doctor, began offering cannabis-focused primary care as part of his Innovative Wellness practice about two months ago. He also has an urgent care facility and an office that’s been certifying patients for medical marijuana for about four years. He said his practice has certified about 10,000 patients.