Rauner agrees to expand medical marijuana program for those with PTSD, terminal illnesses

Rauner agrees to expand medical marijuana program for those with PTSD, terminal illnesses

A compromise among Illinois’ legislative leaders will extend the length and scope of Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program.

Illinoisans with post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses will be able to legally seek out medical marijuana to treat their conditions, under a compromise between Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and state Rep. Lou Lang.

Lawmakers established the four-year pilot for Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in 2013.

The compromise calls for that program to be extended to July 1, 2020. Also, doctors would no longer have to recommend cannabis for patients, but rather simply certify the doctor-patient relationship and that the patient lives with a qualifying condition.

There were 3,300 Illinois patients who qualified for the program as of 2015, according to the state.

Lang said in a statement May 27 that expanding access to the program will ensure better outcomes for many Illinoisans who struggle with serious medical conditions.

“Gov. Rauner and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin deserve credit for their willingness and commitment to reform and extend Illinois’ medical marijuana program,” Lang stated. “I want to thank them for their cooperation to find a bi-partisan legislative compromise on improving a program designed to ease the pain and suffering of seriously ill individuals, including children.”

In September 2015, Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 33, which would have permitted individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder to seek out access to medical marijuana. He cited lack of sufficient evidence that the program was improving patient outcomes in its early stages.

Further decriminalization of marijuana has the potential to save scarce state dollars and prevent thousands of Illinoisans from living with debilitating criminal records.

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