Illinois Judge Orders State to Add Intractable Pain as Qualifying Medical Cannabis Condition

In a decision that will significantly expand the pool of people eligible to use medical cannabis in Illinois, a judge has ruled that the state must add intractable pain as a qualifying medical cannabis condition.

In 2016 the Illinois Department of Public Health rejected a petition to add intractable pain to the state’s medical cannabis program. Now, two years later, Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell has ordered the agency to add the condition. Intractable pain is defined as pain that’s resistant to standard treatment options.

The ruling comes from a lawsuit brought forth by Ann Mednick, who often experiences extreme pain associated with osteoarthritis; Mednick uses prescription opioids, but says they fail to control the pain and result in numerous side effects.

“Illinois is years behind the times,” says Mednick. “The state needs to get [it] together.” Mednick previously petitioned the now-disbanded Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to recommend the state add intractable pain as a medical cannabis condition; the board voted unanimously to approve the petition, 10 to 0. However, this didn’t stop Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah from rejecting the recommendation in January of 2016.

In his ruling Judge Mitchell stated that Dr. Shah’s decision was  “clearly erroneous”. He pointed to the fact that Dr. Mednick said intractable pain is not a condition listed in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems as a recognized unique medical condition, despite that not being true. The judge also said that; “The record shows that individuals with intractable pain would benefit from the medical use of cannabis”.

Unsurprisingly, the Department of Public Health says it plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.

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