Public Health Director Ordered To Rethink Medical Marijuana For Migraines

July 22, 2016
In this Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants with their buds covered in white crystals called trichomes, are a few weeks away from harvest in the Flower Room at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Il.

In this Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants with their buds covered in white crystals called trichomes, are a few weeks away from harvest in the Flower Room at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Il.

Seth Perlman/Associated Press

A judge has ordered the Director of Illinois' Department of Public Health to reconsider his decision not to include migraine headaches on a list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment.  The ruling this week in Cook County Circuit Court said that in reviewing the decision, Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah cannot use evidence conducted outside the administrative hearing process. 

One of Judge Rita Novak’s criticisms was that Shah conducted his own investigation after the hearing occurred. The ruling said Dr. Nirav Shah cannot use evidence conducted outside the administrative hearing process. 

Attorney Michael Goldberg says no evidence surfaced against adding migraines to the medical cannabis pilot program. 

"So when the director goes back to review the evidence, there won't be anything that the director can rely on against migranes," he said. "So we think this is a very good sign."

David Kurfman welcomes the ruling. The Mt. Sterling resident takes cannabis for epilepsy, and says he’s cut down on the number of other medications he takes as a result.

But Kurfman also suffers from migraines, and so does his sister. Kurfman has testified twice before the medical cannabis advisory board, which recommended including migraines as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

He says he found the Rauner administration’s rejection of that recommendation ‘disheartening’. 

“I mean these people consisted of patients, and doctors, and people that are leads in the scientific community," he said. "And the governor didn’t even listen to them.”

This week’s court ruling on migraines was in response to a suit filed by an unidentified man who’s already been using marijuana to treat his headaches. His attorney says the middle-aged man has suffered severe migraines since adolescence. 

Department of Public Health Spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says the agency is still reviewing the judge's ruling.

Rulings are expected soon on lawsuits regarding six other conditions, including chronic postoperative pain, autism, and osteoarthritis.

Story source: WILL