The Illinois Department of Public Health has officially appealed the court decision to add intractable pain to the state’s qualifying conditions list for medical cannabis, according to an Associated Press report. The appeal was expected as the judge allowed a stay on the program change in order to allow the state appeal to be heard.
Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell had ruled that the state was “clearly erroneous” in rejecting the condition’s addition to the program. In January 2016 the now-defunct Medical Cannabis Advisory Board had voted 10-0 to add the condition, but it was rejected by Health Department Director Dr. Nirav Shah.
According to the AP report, Shah had denied the request alleging a “lack of high-quality data” from clinical trials; however, Mitchell cited 45 clinical studies that indicated medical cannabis had a positive effect as a chronic pain therapy.
“The record shows that individuals with intractable pain would benefit from the medical use of cannabis.” – Mitchell, in the Jan. 16 decision
In a Feb. 8 op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, Anne Mednick, an osteoarthritis patient who brought the suit against the department to add the condition, wrote that the “chronic suffering” from the condition “governs her life” and that all doctors have been able to provide her to relieve her suffering is opioids.
“Opioids have wreaked havoc on my life and I want nothing to do with them. On fentanyl, I became a prisoner — even more of one than I am now. I could not leave my house for fear of being more than a few steps from a bathroom. I lost 80 pounds. The drug made me horribly sick and worse, it clouded my mind. There were days where I didn’t know if I could get out of bed. Cannabis can ease pain without any of those side effects; it is not addictive.” – Mednick in the Sun-Times op-ed
In 2016, Cook County Judge Neil Cohen ordered Health officials to add post-operative chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder to the state’s medical cannabis qualifying conditions list.