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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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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