Illinois Adds Epilepsy to List of Qualifying Conditions

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This week has already seen two more medical cannabis stories coming from Illinois, and they’re both positive pieces of news. Last week, Ladybud covered the story of the establishment of rules for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in the state, which should allow for medical sales of cannabis by early 2015.

This week, there have already been two additional developments that bode well for Illinois residents in need of safe access. On Sunday, July 20th, 2014, the Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, signed into law a bill that expanded the state’s medical marijuana program to include the qualifying condition of epilepsy in adults and expanded the progam to include children. The new law, once a lowly bill called SB2636, pre-emptively fixed two major issues in what people have been calling one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country.

As if that wasn’t enough positive progress for a state notorious for red tape, there has also been a request by a well-established hospital to be one of the first dispensaries in the state. Swedish Covenant Hospital has taken a clear, strong, pro-cannabis stance, which may be a first for any major hospital. Maryland’s medical cannabis program wasn’t able to find a single hospital willing to risk dispensing cannabis.

Because cannabis is still federally illegal, if they actually did dispense cannabis a hospital would risk losing their federal funding, including the ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid (or at least to be reimbursed when they do submit a bill). Still, the hospital has gone on record saying that they already dispense far more dangerous drugs than cannabis, and that the hospital’s board can clearly see the medical benefit for some patients.

For now, it’s a purely political move aimed at jump-starting a conversation in Washington DC about changing the federal approach to this amazing herb with so much potential.  The hospital’s willingness to take a risky stance and the speed with which state lawmakers have moved to enforce the mandate of their constituents (and to correct obvious flaws in the original law) is indicative of serious cultural shift.

Ladybud will continue to cover the Illinois medical cannabis program as it is rolled out. Read more coverage of Illinois medical marijuana news on Ladybud here.


Photo Credit: auntjojo under  (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr