An Illinois judge ruled to expand the statewide qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune.
Specifically, the judge determined that patients suffering from “intractable pain” should qualify for medical marijuana in Illinois. Intractable pain is a general term for all types of pain that are resistant to standard medical treatment. At present, Illinois public policy does not include intractable pain in the list of approximately 40 debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.
This dispute arose in January of 2016. That is when the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) refused to add intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. As a result, a private citizen suffering from intractable pain filed a lawsuit and asked for judicial intervention.
In reviewing the lawsuit, the Illinois judge determined that the IDPH director made an erroneous decision. Evidence showed that the World Health Organization lists intractable pain as a special condition in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The judge also considered evidence of 45 clinical studies, demonstrating limited adverse effects from medical marijuana.
Overall, the Illinois judge ruled that patients suffering from intractable pain could benefit from medical marijuana. Consequently, the judge ordered the IDPH to include intractable pain on the list of debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in Illinois.
In response to this decision, the IDPH will file an appeal. The IDPH will request that an appellate court overturn the decision. Until the legal case runs its course, there will not be a change to existing laws, making this an opportune time to review Illinois policies for medical marijuana.
Medical Marijuana in Illinois
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (the Act) establishes the Illinois framework for medical marijuana. Under the Act, patients suffering from certain debilitating conditions qualify for medical use of marijuana. Illinois recognizes that marijuana can be more effective than traditional medicine in certain cases, including relief from chronic pain and nausea.
The Act requires patients to apply for a medical cannabis registry identification card. During the application process, patients must provide a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. Once a patient receives a valid registry card, he or she can buy and use medical marijuana in Illinois.
Debilitating Conditions in Illinois
The IDPH maintains a list of all debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana. The IDPH list features approximately 40 conditions, including but not limited to:
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS);
- Crohn’s disease;
- Hepatitis C;
- Multiple Sclerosis;
- Muscular Dystrophy;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
- Rheumatoid arthritis; and
- Tourette syndrome.
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(image courtesy of Esteban Lopez)