Governor Bruce Rauner continued to stifle the state’s medical marijuana pilot program last week after he failed to add a variety of conditions to the list of diseases that can legally be treated by the drug.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced last Friday that the state’s medical marijuana pilot program would not be expanded despite recommendations from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board which was largely appointed by former Governor Pat Quinn.
The Rauner administration directed Ward Room's questions about the pilot program to the IDPH.
“It is premature to expand the pilot program before there is the ability to evaluate under the current statutory requirements,” Melaney Arnold of the IDPH told Ward Room.
The expert panel reviewed evidence and listened to testimony before recommending eight conditions for treatment by the state’s medical marijuana program. These included post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis and four other pain conditions.
Nonetheless, the IDPH rejected the panel’s proposal that would have expanded the program’s treatment.
“The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is moving forward but remains in its early stage,” Arnold said. “As patients have just started purchasing medical cannabis, the state has not had the opportunity to evaluate the benefits and costs of the pilot program or determine areas for improvement or even whether to extend the program beyond its pilot period.”
Regulated medical marijuana sales began last November in Illinois. As a result of the stringent nature of the state’s program, only 4,000 patients have been approved to buy medical marijuana.
Rauner vetoed legislation last September that would have added PTSD to the list of conditions approved for treatment. The Rauner administration also rejected 11 other medical conditions which had been approved by the panel.
Medical marijuana research has been stifled by federal laws that prohibit the drug’s use.
The law currently includes 39 conditions and diseased that qualify for treatment using the drug. The list includes, cancer, HIV and hepatitis C, among others.
The state’s four-year medical marijuana pilot program is set to expire at the end of 2017.