Metro-East News

Rauner administration rejects some ailments for medical marijuana

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has issued a broad rejection of expanding the list of diseases that can be treated with medical marijuana in Illinois.

The Department of Public Health announced the decision Thursday. The move rebuffs the recommendations of an expert advisory board appointed by Rauner’s predecessor, Democrat Pat Quinn.

Also Thursday, Rauner vetoed a bill that would have added post-traumatic stress disorder to the list via a legislative route.

The advisory board had reviewed medical evidence and listened to patient testimony before recommending 11 conditions. The pilot program will continue with the 39 conditions and diseases currently listed in the state’s medical-marijuana law.

Rauner, in a statement, said the program is too new to expand the list of diseases and conditions covered under the law.

“Cultivation centers are just beginning to grow their crops, and the first dispensary was licensed at the end of August. No patients have yet been served, and consequently, the state has not had the opportunity to evaluate the benefits and costs of the pilot program or determine areas for improvement or even whether to extend the program beyond its pilot period,” Rauner said.

He added: “It is therefore premature to expand the pilot program — before any patient has been served and before we have had the chance to evaluate it.”

Last month, Rauner vetoed an extension to the four-year pilot program in another blow to the new industry.

So far, only 3,000 Illinois patients have been approved to use marijuana. Adding conditions would have broadened the potential base of patients.