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Thousands of Illinois residents have started their paperwork to use medical marijuana, but only 1,500 have so far submitted all the supporting documents.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Thursday about 8,000 people started the process online. The department has approved about 230 patient applications.

The state's new program requires patients to have a qualifying condition such as cancer. Patients must submit fingerprints for a criminal background check using a state-approved fingerprint vendor.

Most patients also must get their doctor's permission to use medical marijuana. Only military veterans getting Veterans Affairs care won't need a doctor's signature. That's because VA doctors, as federal employees, aren't permitted to recommend controlled substances.

More information is available at the program's website.

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