Illinois Ordered by Judge to Add PTSD to Medical Marijuana List

marijuana and PTSD

A Cook County, Illinois, judge ordered the state on June 28 to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

In a sternly worded ruling, Judge Neil Cohen also said that Illinois’ public health director had engaged in a “private investigation” that was “constitutionally inappropriate.”

In a lawsuit filed by Daniel Paul Jabs, an Iraq war veteran, Cohen ordered Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah to add PTSD to the medical marijuana list within 30 days. The order marks the first decision among eight similar lawsuits.

Under Illinois law, people may petition the state to add health conditions to the medical marijuana eligible list. However, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has dismissed all new conditions, against the advice of a panel of experts who review the available medical evidence.

Despite the advisory board unanimously voting to add PTSD to the list, Shah conducted his own investigation and rejected the condition. Shah applied a standard of medical evidence that, according to the judge, “appears nowhere in the Act or the Department’s rules.”

Cohen wrote that Shah had deprived Jabs of his right to due process and, moreover, that the rejection of PTSD “was contrary to the plain language of the Department’s rules.”

Read: Could Marijuana Replace These 5 Major Pharmaceutical Drugs?

Jabs’ attorney, Michael Goldberg, said on June 28 that his client:

“feels this decision gives him and other military veterans suffering from PTSD the respect they deserve from the state and the governor’s office.”

Michael Krawitz of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, noted that:

“the ruling may help veterans suffering with PTSD feel more comfortable trying medical marijuana to ease their symptoms and reduce their reliance on prescription drugs.” [1]

Similar lawsuits have been filed by seven other plaintiffs pushing for chronic post-operative pain, osteoarthritis, intractable pain, migraines, polycystic kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and autism to be added to the medical marijuana list.

Jude Cohen is presiding in the chronic pain and osteoarthritis cases. Other judges will consider the remaining conditions.

PTSD is either a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, or doctors are free to recommend marijuana for the condition in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

Read: Medical Marijuana Shows Promise for Treating Depression, Stress

Earlier in June, Ohio legalized a far-reaching medical marijuana program. Ohio is the 25th state to do so, and has listed PTSD as a qualifying condition. [1]

There is currently legislation pending in Illinois that would essentially accomplish the same thing as Judge Cohen’s order. Rauner’s office has indicated he will sign it, after previously blocking expansion of the medical marijuana program.

The bill would extend Illinois’ medical marijuana program until July 2020. About 40 qualifying medical conditions are specified in the law, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. [2]


[1] The Associated Press

[2] Chicago Tribune