Judge orders intractable pain onto marijuana treatment list

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A judge has ordered the state of Illinois to expand the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use to include intractable pain.

The order issued Tuesday by Cook County Circuit Judge Raymond Mitchell seeks to overturn a decision by the Illinois Department of Public Health rejecting pain that's resistant to treatment as a qualifier for medical marijuana use. Director Dr. Nirav Shah last year cited a "lack of high-quality data" as a reason for denying a recommendation by the now-defunct Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board for the decision.

A health department spokeswoman says Mitchell's ruling will be appealed.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Ann Mednick of Rolling Meadows. She contended she has taken opioid pills to cope with extreme pain caused by osteoarthritis but wants a treatment with fewer side effects.

Tim Martin, a 50-year-old veteran, was electrocuted in a work accident several years ago. Ever since, he has suffered from massive, crippling headaches.

Martin searched for anything to help him deal with the pain, including opioids, until trying medical marijuana. He said so far, the medical marijuana has been working.

"The cannabis has been a godsend, I've got so much quality of life back that it's unbelievable," said Martin.

DePaul Professor Douglas Bruce and his students studied a number of patients using medical marijuana and published the results last year. He said the majority of patients use medical marijuana for treatment of diseases like cancer, HIV, glaucoma and epilepsy.

"It would bring Illinois more in line with states with laws on the books," said Bruce.

Martin, who lives in Aurora, said it has given him a new lease on life.

In his decision, the judge cited two studies that followed patients who use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain. The studies showed it was effective and the patients suffered relatively minor side effects.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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