Much to the dismay of patients suffering from a variety of debilitating medical conditions in Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner has denied expanding the list of conditions which qualify for medical cannabis in the Prairie State.
In May of this year, The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board of Illinois, made up of patients, doctors, nurses and a pharmacist, recommended that 11 conditions be added to those which qualify for the medical cannabis program in Illinois. While 3 conditions, including anxiety, diabetes and essential thrombcythemia with a JAK 2 mutation were denied by the board, the following were all endorsed:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Chronic Pain (Post-Operative)
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Peripheral and diabetic neuropathy
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome
- Neuro-Behcet’s Autoimmune Disease
Contrary to the recommendation made by the board of hand-selected experts, these conditions will not be added to the list of qualifying conditions at this time. On the heels of the excitement from the announcement that the first medical cannabis dispensary received a license to operate in Illinois, this will be a disappointment for thousands of potential patients.
These conditions may be reconsidered in 6 months.
photo credit: Chicago Now
In a massive feat of bipartisanship, the Illinois legislature has passed a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. A coalition of Republicans and Democrats approved the bill through the Senate with a vote of 37-19.
Having already made it through the House, the bill will go to the Republican Governor Bruce Rauner following an additional language cleanup. Should the Governor see fit to sign the measure, it will take effect on January 1, 2016.
Under the new statewide law, low-level marijuana possession would be treated more like a traffic ticket. Instead of up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, those caught with less than 15 grams of cannabis will face a fine of up to $125 and no court time. The new legal limit of intoxication would be 25 nanograms of THC per saliva milliliter or 15 nanograms per blood milliliter. If made into law, Illinois will join 17 other states that have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. The state, alongside almost half the country, already allows for legal medical marijuana.
However, this new piece of legislation does not indicate a strong move towards the legalization of recreational cannabis use. Senator Michael Noland, D-Elgin, a sponsor of the bill stated:
“It’s wrong…but people do use this, and it should not be something that ruins social lives and professional lives as well.”
Supporters are focusing more on the clogged state jails as opposed to total cannabis legalization.
Earlier in 2015, Gov. Rauner announced an ambitious goal of decreasing the Illinois prison population by one quarter. Eliminating arrests and prosecutions for low-level marijuana possession would help immensely in accomplishing that goal. Furthermore, with less court costs, the state would be able to save money for other governmental projects. While the law would not override city ordinances against cannabis possession, it is an attempt to streamline how the state deals with cannabis. A spokeswoman for the governor states he will “carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.”