A judge has ordered Illinois health officials to reconsider their decision not to include migraine headaches on the list of conditions that qualify for use of medical marijuana in the state.
A Cook County judge overturned Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah's denial of a petition to add migraines to the list, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The judge ordered Shah to reconsider evidence presented to the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board before its members voted to recommend approving marijuana to treat migraines.
The court ruling was in response to a suit filed by an unidentified man who has already been using marijuana to treat his headaches. Attorney Robert Bauerschmidt said the middle-aged man has suffered severe migraines since adolescence.
The man tried triptans, the most common migraine treatment, and narcotic painkillers, but neither medical solution was successful.
"He's been through everything," Bauerschmidt said. "Marijuana doesn't cure it, but he finds the pain less severe and believes the headaches are less frequent when he's using it."
Federal law still prohibits marijuana possession, but Illinois law allows it for patients who have any of about 40 specific medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis.
The latest ruling comes after a different judge last month ordered Illinois to add post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition. Taken together, the separate rulings suggest that judicial review may continue to expand the program.
"It's a potential game-changer for the industry," said Attorney Mike Goldberg, whose firm handed the two prior cases. He has pending lawsuits asking to add six other conditions to the list, including irritable bowel syndrome, chronic postoperative pain, osteoarthritis, intractable pain, autism and polycystic kidney disease.
But Illinois attorney general's office spokeswoman Annie Thompson emphasized that the most recent ruling doesn't require adding migraines to the list.
Joe Wright, the former director of the state's medical cannabis program, also said adding migraines to the list isn't guaranteed.
"I'm not sure that means you'd necessarily have to add it," he said. "That means they have to look at it again in light of what the advisory board considered."