Illinois Judge: Add Chronic Pain as Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana

Illinois Judge: Add Chronic Pain as Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana

Flickr / Matt Turner / CC BY 2.0

Illinois patients suffering from chronic pain may soon have a new way to treat their medical condition. On Jan. 16, 2018, Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell ordered the Illinois Department of Public Health to add chronic pain as a qualifying condition for the state’s medical marijuana program.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the judge’s decision is the result of a lawsuit filed by Ann Mednick, a woman who suffers from chronic pain brought on by osteoarthritis. In 2015, Mednick was able to successfully petition the now disbanded Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, who voted 10-0 in favor, to add chronic pain as a qualifying condition on the state’s list of eligible conditions.

That decision, however, was overridden by health department director Dr. Nirav Shah, who claimed there was a lack of scientific evidence. Mednick successfully challenged Shah’s decision in court and the director was forced to review the decision.

Shah once again rejected Mednick’s petition, prompting the current lawsuit. In the court decision, Mitchell wrote that Shah was “clearly erroneous,” and that the director’s decision “contorts” the record to minimize the evidence supporting Mednick’s petition.

“The record shows that individuals with intractable pain would benefit from the medical use of cannabis,” Mitchell wrote, as quoted by the Chicago Tribune.

Although Shah has been ordered to add chronic pain as a qualifying condition, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. The state health department is expected to appeal the court decision, placing any sort of action on hold until the appeal has been decided.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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