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 Illinois’ medical marijuana program could soon expand


Posted: Jun 03, 2016 10:50 PM EDTUpdated: Jun 03, 2016 10:50 PM EDT

HARRISBURG, IL –Medical marijuana could soon be available in Illinois for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s one of two new conditions that could be added to the state’s medical marijuana pilot program if Gov. Bruce Rauner signs off on the changes.

Veterans say this new medication could be a game changer.

It’s not easy getting through dispensary doors. Just 39 medical conditions are in the medical marijuana pilot program, but a bill waiting for Rauner’s signature would add terminal illnesses and PTSD to the program.

Veteran Randy Patton of Harrisburg says cannabis access could really help struggling vets.

“You can’t see PTSD, and it’s something people have to live with every day,” Patton said. He says many veterans struggle with addictions to pills or binge drinking after coming back from war zones, and he thinks access to cannabis could really help them heal.

The owners of Thrive Dispensaries say they’re hoping Rauner signs off on the changes, but not just so they have more people coming in their doors. They say they’re hopeful they can help more people suffering find the medication they need.

“You know, I respect what they’re doing, but I’d like to see more patients and conditions added to what we have now,” said chief agent in charge and Thrive Dispensaries Executive Director Gorgi Naumovski.

Naumovski says Illinois is strict about cannabis now, but he’s glad they’re looking at expanding so more people can access it.

“I was hoping that it would be added later on, and I’m glad to see the state sees the need for it,” Patton said.

Patton says he’s hoping this passes soon. He says PTSD is a big problem, and if this can help treat it, the men and women coming back from war should be able to access it.

If it passes, the bill would also take out language requiring doctors recommend medical marijuana as a medication for their patient. Instead doctors would simply verify their patient has a qualifying medical condition.

The bill would expand the state’s pilot program through 2020 and would allow for a three-year cannabis card renewal process for cardholders instead of a one-year process.

The governor’s office declined to comment on whether he will sign the bill.

For more information on the medical marijuana pilot program, including what medical conditions currently qualify under Illinois law, click here.