Advocates in Illinois are urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to expand the medical marijuana program by sending out petitions and using social media campaigns to convince him. But Rauner remains silent, having given no indication that he will do so any time soon, according to the Chicago Tribune.
So far, the petition has gained 16,000 signatures and today [Tuesday, January 19] the Cannabis Patient Advocacy Coalition will post online videos that will feature patients and medical officials urging approval.
This campaign is driven by industry officials who worry their businesses won’t survive without more than the current 4,000 patients statewide. Patients with a variety of medical conditions, including chronic pain and common arthritis, are also joining them and they say they need medical marijuana to relieve their symptoms without the harsh side effects of prescription drugs.
Rauner has until February 1 to come up with a decision on eight qualifying medical conditions that were recommended by the state Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.
According to reports, “Monday was a state holiday, and a spokesman for the governor said he could not immediately respond. Previously, Rauner vetoed bills to expand the pilot program and to decriminalize marijuana in general, instead calling for more conservative steps toward those goals.”
Those who are involved in the Illinois advisory panel, including lead doctors at major medical institutions say that all drugs come with side effects and that more research is needed, but the marijuana’s potential benefits significantly outweigh the risks.
Reports suggest that, “Under the state’s medical marijuana law, patients with one of about 40 specified medical conditions may get a doctor’s recommendation to buy marijuana from state-approved dispensaries. Approved conditions include cancer, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and complex regional pain syndrome.”