bruce rauner

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Illinois: Medical Marijuana Sales Reach New High At $2.9 Million

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois officials announced Wednesday that July retail medical marijuana sales reached a new high at $2.9 million.

Medical marijuana sales have steadily climbed since November 9, when it first became available. June was the previous highest month at $2.57 million.

There are nearly 8,891 medical marijuana patients in Illinois and 40 registered dispensaries. Total retail sales since the program launched came to $16.3 million at the end of July.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed new legislation last month adding post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions and extending the pilot program until July 2020.

Patients who are terminally ill can apply for a medical marijuana card without a fee. But new patient identification cards for other patients will cost $300 and be valid for three years. Annual fees had been $100. Veterans and those who receive disability benefits can get a three-year card for $150.

Chicago patient advocate and industry analyst Joel Erickson says the price is too high.

"Patients are seeing these numbers and are scared about how they're going to pay for access," Erickson said. "That's a car or rent payment without any help from insurance. There needs to be alternatives for low or fixed-income patients to be able to afford access."

Illinois: Judge Orders State To Authorize Medical Marijuana For PTSD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Cook County judge ruled Tuesday that Illinois must add post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

The ruling may be rendered moot, as legislation is pending that would do the same thing. Gov. Bruce Rauner's office had indicated he will sign it, after previously blocking expansion of the program.

There are pending lawsuits seeking to add seven other conditions to the list, including cases involving chronic pain and osteoarthritis that are before the same judge.

In his opinion, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen criticized Illinois Department of Health Director Nirav Shah for failing to follow the recommendations of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The judge gave the state 30 days to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions, and scheduled a follow-up hearing to ensure compliance.

The case was filed by Daniel Paul Jabs, a military veteran with PTSD.

Attorney Michael Goldberg, who handled the case, said he hoped the other conditions would be added on the same basis.

"This judge… stepped in to protect (Jabs') health, safety and welfare," Goldberg said, "The judiciary seems to be sending a message to the executive branch."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Director Resigns After 1 Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An attorney appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to lead the Illinois medical marijuana program last year has resigned to pursue work in the private sector.

Joseph Wright, 32, was in the position just over one year. He told the Associated Press on Monday that he felt the time was right to explore other opportunities, perhaps in the medical marijuana industry.

Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for the governor, conformed the resignation on Monday. She told the AP the governor's office "will have no further comment" on the reasons for the resignation.

Wright was paid $53,370 last year according to a public database of state employee's salaries. His resignation was turned in on Friday. He will be replaced by Jack Campbell, the program's bureau chief in the Department of Agriculture, Kelly said.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Applaud Rauner's About-face

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are happy that Gov. Bruce Rauner has changed his mind about expanding the Illinois pilot program, saying it will help more patients who are suffering.

Democratic state Rep. Lou Lana announced an agreement Friday with the Republican governor to extend Illinois' four-year pilot program to 2020. It was originally set to end in 2018, but supporters argued more time was needed because medical marijuana sales just started in November 2015.

The agreement adds post traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions. Rauner had previously rejected recommendations to add conditions.

Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple is chairwoman of Illinois' Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. She says she's "thrilled" more patients will benefit.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Cheer Governor's About-Face On Expanding Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are applauding Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's about-face on expanding the state's medicinal cannabis pilot program, saying it will allow time to show the program is working and help more suffering patients.

Democratic Rep. Lou Lang on Friday announced an agreement with the Republican governor to extend the state's four-year medical marijuana pilot program to 2020, reports the Associated Press.

The program had been set to expire in 2018, but advocates said more time is needed because medicinal cannabis sales only began in November 2015.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the Illinois Legislature, adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

Governor Rauner had previously balked at adding any conditions, despite recommendations from the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Chairwoman Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple of the board said she's "thrilled" that more patients will now benefit from the program.

Photo of Gov. Bruce Rauner: Chicago Now

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