Illinois Considers Expanding Disease List For Medical Marijuana Program
By Steve Elliott
Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program. Among the conditions requested to be added are anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Petitioners identifying themselves as combat veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, according to 269 pages of petitions obtained by Carla K. Johnson at The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act. The state redacted the names of petitioners before releasing the documents, to protect patients' privacy.
“I am a Vietnam Vet and can only imagine how things would have been,” wrote one PTSD petitioner. “While visiting in Colorado I had the benefit of trying cannabis in candy form…. and I felt wonderful. No thoughts of violence, self-deprecation, or hopelessness. My life would be different today.”
Illinois law lists cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS as qualifying conditions for cannabis, but is more restrictive than most other medical marijuana states. The Illinois Department of Health must approve any additions to the list.
An advisory board of doctors, patients, nurses and a pharmacist is looking over the petitions, and will make a recommendation after a public hearing on May 4. People can submit petitions twice each year, in January and July.
The board will be "cautious and conservative" as it considers adding conditions to the list, said Dr. Leslie Mendoza Templed, a Chicago physician who chairs the board. "We will not be able to approve all conditions," she said.
Petitioners made the case for conditions including bipolar disorder, autism, psoriasis, chronic back pain, gout, irritable bowel syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and osteoarthritis. Some said they already use marijuana illegally to find relief.