Legislator Hopeful For More Qualifying Illnesses In Med Marijuana Program
The main sponsor of Illinois’ medical marijuana program in the General Assembly says he’s not too worried about the state missing a deadline to rule on proposals for additional qualifying conditions.
Monday went by without Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah ruling on whether to add 11 illnesses to the 40 to be covered when the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries open, likely sometime in the fall.
The list of recommendations from Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Board include post traumatic stress disorder, osteoarthritis, anorexia nervosa, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said while the deadline should have been met, that panel has already received even more petitions for qualifying conditiong - including some for the same ones the board previously approved.
Lang expects Shah to eventually sign off on them, issuing his changes through the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
“And hopefully he will do it by emergency rule, so it can be done in time for the first dispensaries to open," he said. "I remain hopeful that they’ll do their job, and do their work, and the fact that they’ve gone through the deadline is of some concern, but I have every reason to believe that they’ll make a decision.”
A spokesperson for the state Public Health Department, Melaney Arnold, referred a request for comment on medical marijuana qualifying conditions to Governor Bruce Rauner’s office.
Rauner spokesperson Katherine Kelly said recommendations from the medical cannabis board ‘remain under review.’
Meanwhile, Lang said he's seeing progress in the medical cannabis program, with some cultivation centers growing the past few weeks, and the first dispensary getting through the state's registration process last week.
"I have said all along that I thought product would be available in October or November for patients, it appears that we're on that trajectory," he said.