No new conditions for the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. That’s the word from the Illinois Department of Public Health and something advocates say is unacceptable, tragic and inhumane. Late Friday afternoon IDPH put out a short statement that no new conditions will be added to the state’s pilot program. Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson for IDPH, said in an email the pilot program remains in its early stage and the state has not had the opportunity to evaluate the benefits and costs of the program to determine whether to extend it further. “At this time, it is premature to expand the pilot program before there is the ability to evaluate it under the current statutory requirements,” Arnold wrote in an email response. Caprice Sweatt, founder and CEO of Medical Cannabis Outreach, said she is speechless and feels like she’s been punched in the stomach. “If we’re going to petition and put all of this work and time into -- doctors get involved in this -- and the petitioning,” Sweatt said, “this takes up people’s precious time and then to have the advisory board that recommends it and then two times we’re shot down completely? It’s just completely unacceptable.”
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Dan Linn, the executive director of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana laws, said the ruling on no new conditions was expected. “But obviously very disappointing and nothing short of tragic and inhumane especially for the veterans who are suffering from PTSD,” Linn said. Advocates were pushing for PTSD, irritable bowel syndrome and six other conditions to be added to the program. Sweatt says she hopes veterans suffering from PTSD stand up and let their voice be heard. She also said she’ll work against the governor if he lets the program expire in about two years. Linn said he doesn’t fear the pilot program will go away. “I’m not as upset as I know some people are today because I know that if enough people care and enough people contact their state Representatives and their state Senators,” Linn said, “that they’ll be able to get these conditions added to the legislative process and override any vetoes that the governor may write on these bills.” Anita Bedell from the group Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems says it’s supposed to be a pilot program and heavily regulated. She says cannabis advocates want to keep adding more and more conditions and are making their requests too broad. Bedell also worries that young people will improperly get their hands on marijuana which she says could lead to unforeseen psychological problems. Bedell says there are so many consequences people don't know about. IDPH said the pilot program will continue with the 39 conditions and diseases listed in the act like cancer, HIV/AIDS and other debilitating ailments.