Today the Illinois Senate passed House Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 10 – sending to Illinois Governor Rauner a significant package of reforms and changes to the Illinois medical cannabis program – and believe it or not, he is going to sign the Bill.
We owe thanks to Representatives Lou Lang, Jim Durkin, and Governor Rauner.
- Extends the program several years to mid-2020 (instead of expiring Dec. 31, 2017);
- Adds PTSD and terminal illnesses (terminal illnesses will have an expedited Dept. of Public Health approval);
- Changes patient registration to 3-years before renewal, and the horrid patient fingerprinting need only be done once;
- Clarifies that a doctor only certify a patient has a qualifying medical condition (not necessarily condoning the therapeutic benefit);
- Dissolves the existing Medical Cannabis Advisory Board of patients, doctors and other health professionals, to be reconstituted under Gov. Rauner; and
- Fixes a conflict in the law that threatened the lawful gun ownership of medical cannabis patients, plus more.
This Bill does not have everything for advocates (it does not add chronic pain, it does not add home-grow, etc), but with all the positive things SB 10 does, perhaps the most critical is that it gives hope and positive momentum to the Illinois program.
There is one notable (albeit minor) downside.
Having been involved in the creation of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, the dissolution of this Board gave me a moment of pause – the leadership of Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, Dr. Eric Christoff, Dr. Allison Weathers, patients Jim Champion and Michael Fine, and all the others has been outstanding, and frankly exactly what I had hoped for when we initially designed this team of volunteers and medical experts to consider the ever-changing research behind medical cannabis.
I will need to look past the downside of losing these wonderful volunteers, and focus on the huge benefit to the medical cannabis program.
One of the heroes of the Pilot Program, Leader Lou Lang, said it best:
“I have followed the work of the [Advisory] Board and they have done a stellar job. They have listened to a lot of testimony, they read a lot of documents. Before I made my final agreement to move this bill in this way, I called each of them to tell them what was in this bill. Each of them said to me, ‘we think this board does good work… but if what we have to do to lengthen and strengthen this program, and make it better for patients and licensees and doctors and everyone in the pipeline, is to agree to reconstitute this board, then count us in.'”