Illinois May See Chronic Postoperative Pain Added To Approved Conditions

Illinois residents may soon see a new condition added to the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis. Chronic postoperative pain (C-POP) just got sent down the same path as migraines by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen. Unlike irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which was directed to be heard a second time by the medical cannabis advisory board, C-POP must be reconsidered by Nirav Shah, who is the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). This second time around Shah is expressly forbidden by Cohen from considering evidence which was not brought in front of the board. Previously, Shah used studies he sourced on his own to leverage his decision to deny C-POP.

Shah conducted a sort of retrial behind the closed door of his office, in violation of the laws and rules governing this activity. By holding a second secret-court in his office, Shah prevented the members of the board and the individual who requested the addition the opportunity to review and challenge his evidence against adding C-POP. The advisory board voted to add C-POP to the list of approved conditions, and Shah overruled them and chose to deny the addition based upon his own personal merits. This second time around Shah will have little footing from which to build a case against the addition of C-POP to the approved list. He is only specifically allowed by the ruling to consider evidence which was presented in front of the advisory board.

The plaintiff’s attorney Michael Goldberg spoke about how this condition would be well-served by medical cannabis and help stem the tide of opiate addiction saying, “There are thousands of people in Illinois that are addicted to opioids who have no choice but to use them for their pain, and that’s all they are allowed to have according to the state. These are people that will have pain for years. This nerve damage causes my client to not even take a step without pain.”

The IDPH has 30 days to either act upon or appeal the ruling. I hope that Shah acknowledges the decision of the medical advisory board, and agrees to add C-POP to the list of approved medical conditions. There are Illinoisans in pain right now, and they are counting on Shah to help!

Do you think Shah will approve the addition of C-POP this second time around? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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PTSD Added To Approved Conditions Via Lawsuit – Are More Conditions To Follow?

PTSD was recently ordered to be added to the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis in Illinois not once, but twice. Once as the outcome of a lawsuit filed by an Illinois Iraq War Veteran, Daniel Paul Jabs, against the Illinois Department of Public Health. Then days later a second time via amendment 3 of SB10, an effort which was spearheaded by Skokie State Rep. Lou Lang. Jabs filed his lawsuit after Nirav Shah, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Governor Rauner refused to follow the advisory board’s recommendation to add PTSD to the approved list.

Judge Cohen, a Cook county judge, presided over the case and held no punches in his judgement. Bob Morgan, the initial director of the Illinois medical cannabis program, qualified the gravity of the ruling saying, “…outside of the cannabis context, I am hard-pressed to recall such a scathing ruling against a state agency administrative decision.” Judge Cohen had the following to say about the Shah’s conduct;

“The Director’s legal duty was to review the evidence, review the advisory board’s recommendations based thereon and render a final decision accepting or denying the proposal. Instead, Director Shah engaged in a private investigation, hidden from public view and more importantly, hidden from the parties and arrived at his conclusion based thereon. This process was constitutionally inappropriate.” June 28, 2016 Memorandum and Order, Jabs v. IDPH, 15 CH 16344.

To boil it down, in my opinion Shah violated his duty to the law and his fellow citizens. Shah chose to operate outside the rules, and Judge Cohen nailed him on it. I can only imagine the behind the scenes pressure Rauner placed on Shah to get him to go against the board and the rules. Veteran Daniel Paul Jabs summarized his reaction to the ruling by saying he “feels this decision gives him and other military veterans suffering from PTSD the respect they deserve from the state and the governor’s office.” Veterans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Judge Cohen was clear in stating in his judgement that Shah applied a standard of medical evidence which “appears nowhere in the Act or the Department’s rules,” going on to be crystal clear the Judge also qualified Shah’s actions as “contrary to the plain language of the Department’s rules.”

Here is the interesting part! Currently there are two other cases on Judge Cohen’s docket for similar lawsuits about chronic post-operative pain and osteoarthritis. Common sense would lead one to believe that Judge Cohen would likely follow the legal precedent set by the PTSD case, and rule in the same manner with these next two if the circumstances and facts are similar. We can certainly hope so! Aside from these two lawsuits there are also five others on the docket of other Cook County judges for conditions including migraines, IBS, polycystic kidney disease, intractable pain and autism. The timeline on all these cases is hard to estimate, but remember, good things come to those who wait. My gut tells me Judge Cohen’s comments will send a wakeup call to both the IDPH and the Governor, remind them they will be held to the rule of law just like everyone else, and show them the citizens of Illinois will not stand idly by while backroom closed-door proceedings supersede the will of the people.

Do you think the pending lawsuits will have the same outcome as PTSD did? Tells us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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