This has been an exciting week of breaking news for the MCPP. There were three very noteworthy news stories that spread through the Illinois cannabis community like wildfire.
Joseph Wright, the current director of the MCPP, announced his resignation after holding the post for just over a year. His reason for leaving is to pursue work in the private sector, possibly the medical cannabis industry. He will be replaced by Jack Campbell, who has a background in law enforcement. Initially, there was some question as whether Campbell would be an appropriate director of the program. He already has experience working in the medical cannabis industry, as the chief of the state’s Bureau of Medicinal Plants, which is part of the Department of Agriculture. He oversees the registration and regulation of all the cultivation centers in Illinois. His promotion to director would be “positive news for patients,” according to Bob Morgan, the program’s first director. Furthermore, Campbell “has a strong reputation for how he has engaged with cultivation centers” during inspections.
Last Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Cook County Judge Neil Cohen ruled that the state must add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions. It had previously been vetoed three times. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has 30 days with which to comply; a follow-up hearing is already scheduled to ensure compliance. Judge Cohen criticized Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the IDPH, for failing to follow the recommendations of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board (MCAB). He described Shah’s actions as “contrary to the plain language of the Department’s rules.” This was in response to a lawsuit brought by an Iraq veteran with PTSD, Daniel Jabs, filed a year ago. Cannabis advocates hope that this win will set a precedent for the other seven pending lawsuits of previously rejected conditions including chronic pain and osteoarthritis, set also to be heard by Judge Cohen.
I’ve left the most exciting news to last. Governor Rauner pleasantly surprised the entire cannabis community by signing SB 10 into law last night. We were expecting him to wait until the 60 day signing window expired in August. So, what does this mean?
Within 30 days, the IDPH must do the following:
1. Update forms for PTSD and Terminal Illness.
2. Write emergency rules for those with felony convictions for possession of drugs. A reasonable amount will be determined. Patients will be eligible for the MCPP if their conviction was for an amount which is for an equal or lesser quantity.
A determination regarding the renewal process for current patients is expected very soon.
This should increase patient rolls considerably and ensure that safe access to high quantity medical cannabis is available to more Illinois citizens.