Illinois Medical Cannabis Program Officially Expands And Extends

Governor Rauner recently signed the bill into law which expands and extends the current Illinois medical cannabis program. The program was started in 2013, as was set to run four years to end in 2017. Such a large undertaking took time to get off the ground and up and running, with Illinois not seeing actual medical cannabis sales until November 2015. The program would have only been left with a little over a year to show results and allow regulators and citizens alike to draw meaningful conclusions. State Rep. Lou Lang, the Skokie representative who championed this latest expansion effort, noted his efforts to extend the program were necessary because the year left “simply wasn’t long enough.” Legislators were able to agree on a 2 ½ year extension of the program, with the new sunset date of July 2020. Along with extending the program, this bill also update the way doctors interact with the program, and the conditions covered.

Cresco Labs’ own founder and CEO Charles Bachtell celebrated this achievement for Illinois saying, “It’s a very good thing for us.” Bachtell also noted the deeper meaning in this event saying, “It’s somewhat of an endorsement of the state saying, ‘You’re doing the right thing. We like what we’re seeing from the pilot program and let’s make some reasonable modifications.’” The bill increased the list of approved conditions from 39 to 41, by adding PTSD and terminal illness. Ironically just before this bill was signed, an Illinois judge ordered the director of the medical cannabis program to add PTSD as the result of lawsuit brought against the Illinois Department of Public Health. America’s veterans need all the support we can provide them, and this new treatment option will hopefully bring relief to many in need. Those with terminal illness should be granted access to a medicine which will not only treat their pain, but uplift their souls and allow them to make the best their time remaining.

The bill also made a small, but extremely meaningful, adjustment to the way in which doctors, patients, and the state interact. Previously doctors were required to sign forms from the state which not only recorded which condition the patient has, but also included wording which made doctors uncomfortable. This wording was in regards to patients receiving benefits from using medical cannabis and relief from their symptoms or condition. This new law removes all relief or benefit recommendations, and only has doctors certifying to the state that a patient has a specific condition. The state merely is left to confirm that condition is on the approved list. By removing the recommendation of benefits and relief, doctors will not be worried they are left out to dry for recommending a non-FDA approved medication or treatment. By going outside the FDA lines doctors would surely violate and nullify their malpractice insurance. This change in forms and doctor interaction are going to hopefully increase the number of doctors and hospitals willing to sign patient’s’ medical cannabis certification forms.

Do you think the state of Illinois is on the right track with these changes to the medical cannabis program? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook?

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Governor Rauner Voices Reluctance To Expand List Of Approved Conditions

Governor Bruce Rauner visited Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa and Lyons Township High School in La Grange yesterday, May 9, 2016, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. During his visits the Governor took questions, and was asked by a student about his thoughts on expanding the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis. This student was reported as having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition which was already approved by the medical board but vetoed by the Governor previously in mid-2015. The Governor has twice previously stonewalled the medical board which recommended that her condition, along with a list of others, be added to the approved list.

cannabis-illinois-expand-approved-conditionsUnfazed by these setbacks, this brave young woman chose to keep hope alive that her condition will one day be covered, and took her opportunity yesterday to ask Rauner his thoughts on expanding the list of approved conditions. The leader of our state gave a disappointingly tepid response by qualifying that he wants to take the program forward, “one step at a time and see how the process unfolds.” This hardly leaves one with a high level of confidence that he will choose to expand the list this time around. If you believe the Governor should approve the board’s recommendations, then contact him today and let him know how the citizens who he represents want him to act!

The courageous young woman that questioned Rauner, whose name is Emily, has written a blog of her own about this event. Please follow this link where you may have the opportunity to firsthand read her story. It is clear to me that Emily has the kind of patient determination which will help move our state into an enlightened understanding of medical cannabis. Emily declares “Governor Rauner can continue to walk, but when it comes to medical treatment and advancements, I choose to run.” Governor Rauner needs to get it moving, and catch up to Emily and our state’s medical board!

Do you think that a legislator should overrule a medical board when it comes to expanding the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis in Illinois? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

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