In a move that will be applauded by both patients and canna businesspeople in Illinois, the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board signed off yesterday on adding eleven new chronic and debilitating conditions to Illinois’ list of qualifying conditions for the use of medical marijuana. At a public hearing Monday, the Board discussed patient petitions to add anorexia nervosa, anxiety, chronic post-operative pain, diabetes, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Essential Thrombocythemia with a JAK 2 mutation, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, Neuro-Behcet’s Autoimmune disease, neuropathy, osteoarthritis, polycystic kidney disease, PTSD, and superior canal dehiscence syndrome to the list of approximately three dozen qualifying conditions included by the Illinois General Assembly in the original legislation that legalized cannabis for medical use in Illinois. We note that several of the petitions that were reportedly submitted (see our post Illinois Medical Cannabis: State Weighs Potential New Qualifying Conditions) were apparently not considered at the hearing. We presume those petitions were either incomplete or the petitioner failed to follow through with the entire hearing process. Anxiety, diabetes, and Essential Thrombocythemia were rejected for insufficient evidence of a “medical justification” for treatment with medical cannabis, and, in the case of diabetes, over concerns that marijuana would overly stimulate the appetite of patients who must closely monitor their diet. This latter rational sounds a little speculative, but diabetes patients (and other patients) will have another opportunity to petition the Board come July.
Next stop for the eleven recommended petitions is the desk of Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah, an appointee of Governor Rauner. Shah’s status as a Rauner appointee suggests he, like his boss, may be somewhat hostile (read here) to medical marijuana, but his demographic (he’s only 37, and a lawyer and MD) perhaps suggests the opposite. We expect his action on these petitions will be instructive as to the administration’s overall attitude towards MMJ going forward. Any petitions approved by Shah will have to undergo a rule-making process before becoming law.
Ironically, because petitions must be acted upon within 180 days of submission (which occurred in January and February), patients suffering from those conditions under consideration could gain access to medical cannabis later this summer — the same timeline expected for patients with the original qualifying conditions. A sad commentary on the slothful pace at which canna business licensing has progressed, yes, but a positive development for patients and their families and caregivers in Illinois overall.