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Low Patient Numbers Could Doom Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Industry

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Illinois medical marijuana hb 1Once upon a time I talked with a person who was looking at investing in Illinois’ medical marijuana industry. At the time of our discussion, Illinois was still in the process of reviewing applications for the limited number of licenses for dispensaries and cultivation facilities. The numbers he said people were putting up were astronomical, but seemed confident that it would all be worth it to the people that won licenses. He kept pointing to Illinois’ large population as the reason why it would be such a big score for the people that won licenses.

I was very quick to point out that Illinois’ medical marijuana program was too restrictive, and that until more conditions were added to the program, there wouldn’t be that many patients. I urged him to push for expanding the program in his state, not only to increase the patient base for industry purposes, but also because it’s the right thing to do. No one should be denied an effective medicine for political reasons. I could tell at the time the person I was talking to didn’t quite grasp what I was saying, which made me sad.

I just read an article on The Daily Herald which talked about how dispensaries are struggling in Illinois, and the reason why sounded familiar. Per The Daily Herald:

Illinois regulators touted almost $1.7 million in sales since medical marijuana became legal in November, and about 400 new certified customers were added last month to the roughly 4,000 already approved to buy the drug. But the business owners say they need to see 20,000 to 30,000 customers in the next six months to a year to stabilize the industry.

The reason for the disappointing numbers stems from what the operators call unnecessarily tight restrictions on who can buy marijuana.

For example, chronic pain and sleep disorders are not considered valid reasons in Illinois to buy medical pot, but they are elsewhere.

In September of last year there was a push to add 11 more conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for the Illinois medical marijuana program, including PTSD. However, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the measure. There is currently a petition on Change.Org calling for adding conditions to Illinois’ medical marijuana program. It’s currently at 16,938 signatures and climbing. Let’s see if we can get it to the current 25,000 goal! You can sign it at this link here. Please share it with everyone you know. Below are statements that were provided to the blog from suffering Illinois patients that aren’t able to enroll in the program because their condition doesn’t qualify:

“I have osteoarthritis and suffer from the pain daily. I find it hard to even walk through a grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner and have to have help putting things away. Please approve the condition as I am only 55 and would like to have some pain free life of what I have left.” — Debra R., Round Lake

“I have PTSD and am breaking the law to control my anxiety.” — Robert T., Monmouth

“My son suffers from autism and seizures. Medical cannabis has helped in the past and I don’t want to move, but I will to help my son. That means everything to me.” — Ron T., Chicago

“I am Veteran with PTSD and arthritis and chronic pain from injuries from my service.
I don’t want to be a criminal to have relief. ” — Richard B., Rock Island

“I’m signing because I’m a 30+ year military veteran with severe osteoarthritis, IBS, and several other of the illnesses listed here. My doctors recommended and I have tried and found relief in medical marijuana. I proudly served my country and the communities I’ve lived in my entire adult life. I’m simply looking for a better quality of life.” — Ron L., Dahinda

I suffer from PTSD and have suffered ever since my deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006. I’ve been put on so many different anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications I can’t even count or remember them all. None of them have helped and many have made things worse. I know it is highly unlikely that I will ever fully recover, but having a medicine that could ease the constant pain and suffering associated with PTSD and its many symptoms will add a huge amount to my quality of life.” — James D., Schaumburg

“I am a veteran with PTSD and medical marijuana helps me with the triggers and memories. Also anger, stress and sleeping. I couldn’t be the father/husband I am today without it.” — Dustin C., Rockford

“I am a patient with osteoarthritis in my lower back. I have spoken in front of the Advisory Board in both May and October 2015. Medical cannabis will not cure my osteoarthritis, but it will help to manage the chronic pain that I face on a daily basis. Director Shah and Governor Rauner: approve these 8 recommended conditions so that patients like myself can have access to medicine.” — Jared T., Romeoville

“My uncle, a Vietnam War veteran with PTSD, is a changed man since beginning to use cannabis about two years ago. By reducing counseling costs, completely eliminating his dependence on pharmaceuticals for anxiety and insomnia, and enabling him to work full-time without absenteeism, medical cannabis is benefiting not only him but the community and society as a whole. This use of cannabis should be enshrined in law as soon as possible.” — Christopher S., Charleston

“I don’t want to rely on liver eroding medication for my chronic pain condition. I want a safe, natural alternative.” — Karen F., Chicago

“I don’t want to be on prescription meds like OxyContin for my Osteoarthritis and chronic knee and back pain.” — Steve S., Zion

“I have chronic pain and my insurance will no longer cover the med I have been taking.” — Judith B., Bloomingdale

“My daughter has PTSD and has been waiting patiently for relief of her painful symptoms.” — Michele H., Oak Park

“I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and marijuana has been helping my condition for years.” — Anna H., Chicago

“I’ve had chronic pain for 15 years. Time for a break.” — Robert M., Saint Anne

“I’m signing because I’m a chronic pain sufferer who also happens to have PTSD. I’ve found that medical cannabis helps me more than any of the pharmaceuticals I have been on over the year! I also have a son with Autism. I would love to see if medical cannabis would help him more so he could stop taking some of the poison the pharmaceutical industry alongside the doctors shove down our throats!” — Kandy T., Macomb

“I suffer from PTSD and know that marijuana can help with my disorder symptoms.” — Becky C., Rushville

“Osteoarthritis is destroying my quality of life and I am unable to take any of the commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals for the pain. In addition a number of them were taken off the market due to dangerous side effects.” — Green C., Glenview

I have Osteoarthritis & have dealt with the pain by using RX medication, otc meds, etc for over 11 years. I have limitations that make just the day-to-day things uncomfortable to impossible everyday. I’m only 57 & my quality time with my family has declined over the years. I would like real pain relief & to be able to cut back on meds that I know aren’t good for me!” — Lela W., Mount Morris

“I have chronic pain, and feel this would help since eating hydrocodone is killing me.” — Jennifer M., Peoria

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