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Illinois Pain Patients Must Have Medical Marijuana Access, Judge Rules

January 17, 2018
An Illinois judge overturned the decision of Dr. Nirav Shah (above), director of the State Department of Health, who had twice rejected intractable pain as a qualifying condition. (Mike Groll/AP)
A Cook County judge has ordered the Illinois State Department of Health to add intractable pain to the department’s list of conditions that allow patients legal access to medical cannabis.

Health Department Director Dr. Nirav Shah had twice previously refused to add the condition to the list. In 2016, the now-defunct Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted 10-0 to add intractable pain to the state’s list of qualifying conditions. But Shah denied the addition, citing a “lack of high-quality data” as his reason. 

Judge Raymond Mitchell said the state's decision to exclude chronic pain was 'clearly erroneous.'

Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell ruled that Shah’s decision was “clearly erroneous,” noting that two medical journals had reviewed 45 clinical studies of cannabis used to treat pain. “The record shows that individuals with intractable pain would benefit from the medical use of cannabis,” the judge wrote.

The ruling could have profound implications for Illinois’ medical cannabis program. The state currently lists 40 debilitating conditions, but among patients nationwide, intractable pain is far and away the most frequently cited reason for the use of medical marijuana.

The judge’s ruling came as the result of a lawsuit filed by Ann Mednick, a Rolling Meadows woman who has taken opioid pills to cope with extreme pain caused by osteoarthritis but wants a treatment with fewer side effects.

“Illinois is years behind the times,” Mednick told the Chicago Tribune. “The state needs to get (it) together.”

A health department spokeswoman says Mitchell’s ruling will be appealed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana by state

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  • Donald Estlund

    OK so sick of the marijuana issue, its relaxing, its calming, it takes away my pain and helps me forget about the worthless ,broken down self that I am and that I have been now for years,and that I will be until the day I die. Being disabled can be ugly. And for a few years all I would get is criticized for the use of opiates. So much so that I once thought I would be better off dead no one likes a pill head.. And yes to all you so called Dr.s and Pharmacist that’s how awefull it is. So big thanks to Dr.s and Pharmacists for all of your criticism, you almost killed me, for something I truly needed. But as I type here today I have obviously puffed the most beautiful thing on earth and magically got my head out of the gutter. So please Illinois ,please on my behalf and others legalize. Before someone else kills themselves ,marijuana’s not a drug , and opiates should not be an issue inside of pharmacy’s or doctors offices. O, one more thing marijuana doesn’t lead to bad drugs but alcohol can make you stupid enough to try and start on them. And if it happens to be heroin well if you ever talk or know someone involved in it .They are scared of getting off of it . Resort to stealing money for more or a pain med to hold them over till they can find more. Sorry to let you in on such a secret opiates are not a problem . Heroin is a problem , without heroin there would be no black market for opiates. Make sense! In no way do I see puffing on mother nature leading to playing with the devil drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or crystal meth or even alcohol. I’m sorry to be so blunt or rash but ,WAKE UP HELLO COMMON SENSE LETS MAKE THIS STATE THE BEST AND NUMBER 1STATE TO LIVE IN. Lets open this up as if we were the first state to be adult legal. And not bounce back and forth on the issue. Or if you truly want to go back and forth on something . Let’s get rid of alcohol! Let’s get rid of cigarettes. To my friends I hold my head high, and until the day of legalization I am in awe at the undecided. A common sense issue taking to much time only because of the greatest of issues and greed$$$