Illinois: Medical Marijuana Board Complains About Governor's Rejections

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Members of an Illinois state panel that recommends whether to expand the state's medical marijuana program complained Monday that Gov. Bruce Rauner has routinely ignored their suggestions.

The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board suggested that 10 previously recommended ailments receive approval, as well two new ones: Type 1 diabetes and panic disorder.

As some at a hearing celebrated the diabetes recommendation, board member and pediatrician Dr. Nestor Ramirez cautioned the crowd to "wait for what the governor says."

Rauner's Illinois Department of Public Health has rejected the board's past recommendations. The governor inherited the medical marijuana program, and has been reluctant to broaden access, instead calling for further study of the drug's benefits and risks.

Farah Zala Morales, who works at a medical marijuana dispensary, spoke on behalf of her 12-year-old daughter, Mira, who has Type 1 diabetes. Morales said the drug helped ease her daughter's discomfort and stabilize her blood sugar so she didn't have to inject herself with insulin as often and could maintain good grades and play sports.

Panic disorders drew more support from the board. "Having the option (of medical marijuana), instead of just putting someone on four-times-a-day Xanax, would be very useful," said Dr. Eric Christoff, an HIV specialist at Northwestern Medicine.

The board rejected using medical marijuana for persistent depressive disorder, Lyme disease and MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection.

Ten conditions Rauner's public health agency rejected again were autism, chronic pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, neuropathy, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain due to trauma, chronic post-op pain, intractable pain, migraines and osteoarthritis.