Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program continues to get pushed further into the realm of functionality.
Last week, Cook County Judge Neil Cohen ordered the Illinois Department of Health to expand the state’s medical marijuana pilot program by adding post-operative chronic pain (CPOP) to its list of qualified conditions. Now, the state’s leading health official, Dr. Nirav Shah, has 30 days to allow CPOP patients to access medical marijuana or be found in contempt of court.
A hearing has been scheduled for the first part of November to ensure the health department has complied with the judge’s order.
This is not the first time Judge Cohen has opposed Shah’s unwillingness to include additional qualified conditions into the mix. Earlier this year, Cohen ruled in favor of including post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition, stating that Shah’s complete disregard for the recommendations offered by the state’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board should be considered a blatant disregard for the rights of Illinois’ citizens.
However, before the issue could become a bare-knuckle brawl in the courts, Governor Bruce Rauner signed a piece of legislation into law allowing patients with PTSD to get their hands on medical marijuana. But Rauner still remains apprehensive about giving the medical marijuana program too much leash before the state has had time to evaluate the program.
Marijuana advocates have been calling for the state to include chronic pain in its medical marijuana program ever since it was launched about a year ago. But health officials have been rather resistant to the idea due to concerns that it could open the door to more recreational use.
Yet, Illinois’ medical marijuana is starving to death because it does not have enough patients to earn any revenue. In January, HIGH TIMES reported that many medical marijuana businesses fear being forced into bankruptcy because there are only a few thousands patients across the entire state registered to purchase cannabis products. Some reports have indicated the industry needs at least 30,000 patients to survive.
Although the judge’s ruling strictly pertains to “post operative chronic pain,” it stands to make thousands more people eligible to participate in the program.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office is reportedly reviewing the verdict in order to determine whether to file an appeal.
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