Bruce V. Rauner, governor-elect of Illinois, waves to the audience during his introduction at his inauguration ceremony in Springfield, Ill., Jan. 12, 2015. As Illinois' governor, Rauner will serve as the commander in chief for the Soldiers and Airmen of the Illinois National Guard while they are not under federal activation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer/Released)

182nd Airlift Wing

Illinois Gov. Allegedly Traded MMJ Program Expansion for Dissolving Cannabis Advisory Board

Last spring Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Board was disbanded and it appears the move was part of a deal between board members and Gov. Bruce Rauner to extend the program three years and add post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness to the qualifying condition list, Chicago magazine reports.

Michael Fine, a former member of the now-defunct board, said the members were “sold out” and “the trade-off” for the program’s expansion, “but a good trade-off.”

“We raised no stink because the program was much more important than our positions on the board,” he said in the report.

In June 2016, Joseph Wright, the then-head of the Board, resigned just one month after the legislature passed the law to extend the program. At that time, Wright indicated he had stepped down to pursue other opportunities; however now other former members are opening up about the details surrounding the shuttering of the board.

Last March, the state Department of Public Health rejected petitions to add intractable pain and autism to the qualifying condition list, and state Rep. Lou Lang, who championed the state’s medical cannabis program, accuses the governor of “directing the Department of Health to reject [those] conditions,” claiming that Health Director Nirav Shah told him that the only way new conditions would be added to the list is through the legislature.

According to the report, Rauner’s office declined to comment on the claims but Laurel Patrick, a spokesperson for the administration, confirmed that “the board no longer exists.”

In June, the legislature passed Senate Bill 10, which included language to recreate a medical cannabis advisory board, but former board member Leslie Mendoza Temple indicated she applied for a position on the new board but never heard back. Patrick did not comment on whether the new board, authorized by SB.10, will be convened.

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