Illinois to Add PTSD & Terminal Illnesses to Medical Marijuana Program

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Memorial Day represented a major victory for Illinois’ veterans as the state House, as expected, voted 86-27 to expand the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions to include PTSD and terminal illnesses.

The measure also extends Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program to 2020. The program was set to expire at the end of 2017 and secures the industry’s next four years.

The measure now moves to the Senate and then Governor Rauner’s desk, and both parties are expected to approve the change and make the moves official. Perhaps spurred by community pressure to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, Governor Rauner changed his previously tepid stance on expansion late last week when he and lawmakers made some necessary compromises to finalize these now imminent changes.

Another major change in the state’s process will no longer require doctors to “recommend” medical marijuana for patients. Instead, doctors can signify that patients have a qualifying condition that needs treatment. This change gives security knowing their medical licenses won’t be at risk.

Moreover, patients’ medical recommendations will now last three years (opposed to the previous one). Additionally, minors may be permitted two caregivers instead of the previous one.

The additions of PTSD and terminal illnesses should stimulate the Illinois medical marijuana program’s growth and aid an important sector of patients. Those patients with terminal illnesses will have an expedited approval time of two weeks opposed to the standard six-seven week timeframe.

Medical marijuana for veterans recently secured federal support as Congress recently voted to allow VA’s to prescribe medical marijuana. Illinois’ expansion aligns itself with this new federal stance while recognizing that PTSD is one of the illnesses that medical marijuana can truly heal.

By the time Illinois’ pilot program becomes a permanent program or expires in 2020, the state could have a legal, retail cannabis market of its own.