Pubdate: Tue, 13 Oct 2015
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC


The political dysfunction in Springfield that has made it impossible 
to do something as basic as pass a state budget threatens to 
eviscerate an important pilot program for medical marijuana-even as 
potential patients continue to get in line.

But this is one logjam that could be broken quickly, and it should be.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration and the Legislature have shown a 
good-faith willingness to actually talk to each other about this one 
- - rare itself these days. For the sake of severely ill people 
suffering from chronic pain, we urge the governor and Legislature to 
keep on talking and reach a deal. They might even learn a thing or 
two about how to bridge the chasm, by giving and getting, on other 
more difficult issues.

When Illinois set up its pilot medical marijuana program, it was 
designed to run for about four years, a reasonable amount of time to 
gauge its effectiveness. But the start date is almost two years 
behind schedule, so the end date needs an adjustment, too. Though 
medical pot has yet to be stocked at a single dispensary, the pilot 
program is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2017. If that deadline is not 
extended, businesses will raise prices to recoup their investments, 
patients will shy away, and the program will fail.

That would be crushing for people suffering from any of the 39 
conditions and diseases for which pain-easing medical marijuana is 
approved in Illinois. Among those maladies are cancer, glaucoma, ALS, 
Crohn's disease, AIDS, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis. Why add 
bureaucratic infighting to that list of afflictions? Moreover, 
there's no point in running a pilot program for so short a time that 
nobody can say whether it worked.

The Legislature voted to extend the pilot program by two years, but 
Rauner, using an amendatory veto, limited that extension to just four 
months. We much prefer the full two years-four months is way too 
brief-but somewhere in there is a reasonable middle ground. The 
Legislature, to its credit, agreed not to attempt an override of the 
governor's veto in exchange for talks, which have been taking place.

This is good news for the 3,100 people who, with doctors' 
prescriptions in hand, have signed up to get medical marijuana. That 
number grew by 100 in September and is expected to shoot up when 
medical marijuana actually becomes available, which should happen this fall.

Medical marijuana is no hippy-dippy game. It is a godsend for people 
in real daily pain.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom