Judge Orders Illinois to Add Post-Operative Chronic Pain to Medical Marijuana List

A Cook County Judge has ordered the Illinois Department of Public Health to add Post-Operative Chronic Pain to the list of disorders treatable with medical cannabis.

In a blistering order, Cook County Judge Neil Cohen told the Director of the State Department of Public Health, Dr. Nirav Shah to add the condition known as CPOP within the next 30 days. And he scheduled a hearing for November 3, “to ensure the Director’s compliance with this order.”

It’s the second time this year the Judge has ordered the Health Department to add a disorder to the list. In June, he made a similar ruling on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Pending legislation at the time added PTSD, and Governor Bruce Rauner signed that bill shortly thereafter.

Both conditions were recommended for inclusion earlier this year by the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, but the Health Department, which has final say, had balked.

Chronic pain is a condition the medical marijuana community had been calling for since the program went on line last year.

“We’re one of the few states that doesn’t allow for the treatment of pain with cannabis,” Revolution Labs chief Tim McGraw told NBC5 last month. “As far as conditions go, that’s the biggest bucket there is!”

Pharmacann General Counsel Jeremy Unruh called the ruling, a “very large step in the right direction to increase the patient base.”

“I think it’s a shame that we’re having to push the governor’s office, particularly the Department of Public Health, into opening these conditions up,” Unruh said. “I think it’s time that administration sort of understand that the state is supportive of a responsible, measured expansion of this program.”

Other states have received criticism for including broad categories like “chronic pain” in their marijuana programs, critics charging that such broad catch-alls are ripe for abuse. The order calls for inclusion specifically of “post operative” chronic pain, which Unruh notes is much more specific. And that no one gets treatment unless they are under a doctor’s care.

“There is a professional,” he noted. “A licensed professional, who puts his or her license on the line to assert that this particular patient is qualified.”

A spokesman for the Illinois Attorney General’s office referred inquiries on the matter to the Department of Public Health. That department’s spokesman, Melaney Arnold, said in a statement, “IDPH is reviewing the judge’s ruling and is consulting with the Office of the Attorney General.”

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