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If Illinois Gov. Pritzker Really Wants to Improve Marijuana Laws, He Should Start Here

If Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) really supports marijuana reform, he should start by improving access to medical marijuana in the Prairie State, according to advocates.

Governor Pritzker has pledged to legalize recreational cannabis in Illinois, but legislative changes like that don't happen overnight. Even if Pritzker, who took power as governor earlier this month, does get legalization passed through the legislature quickly, it could take a year or more before a regulated market is established. So in the meantime, advocates want Pritzker to improve the state's medical marijuana program. 

There are several pending lawsuits that would expand Illinois' medical marijuana program by adding to the list of conditions approved to be treated with medical marijuana. The court has already ruled on one of them, stating that intractable pain must be added to the state's list of approved conditions. However, the state's former governor Bruce Rauner (R) appealed the ruling, preventing the condition from becoming eligible for treatment with medical marijuana.

If Pritzker and the new state AG Kwame Raoul simply drop the appeal, the court's order would go into effect within 30 days. This small move would allow a whole lot more Illinoisans to access medication they need.

Meanwhile, the state Health Department could take things one step further and approve the eight conditions that the state's (now dissolved) Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recommended to be added to the list. That would allow patients suffering from things like neuropathy, osteoarthritis and chronic pain from trauma to have access to medical marijuana.

Of course, that doesn't mean Pritzker should set aside recreational cannabis altogether. But expanding the state's medical program would show patients, advocates and general voters that he is serious about cannabis reform.

h/t Chicago Tribune

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