Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.
Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.
This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.
If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature approved a bill requiring the state’s Department of Health to recommend by January 1, 2016, whether intractable pain should be added as a condition that qualifies for medical cannabis. The department is currently seeking public input on this question and has created two opportunities to share your thoughts.
First, the department is accepting written comment on including intractable pain. There is currently no deadline for submitting comments. However, potential patients, their caregivers, and supportive health care practitioners should submit their comments soon so they can be taken into consideration early in the process.
Second, the department will be hosting listening sessions around the state to take public testimony on including intractable pain. The first two will be held this week:
Wednesday, August 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Rochester Public Library
Thursday, August 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Kandiyohi Health and Human Services building in Willmar, Minnesota
Additional events will be held across the state in September and October. We will let you know when and where they will be closer to the date.
More than 15,000 Americans die each year from prescription opiate overdoses. Patients deserve a safer — and often more effective — alternative. Please check out our talking points and let the department know it’s time to stop leaving intractable pain patients behind.