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No decision yet on adding conditions eligible for medical marijuana

Some who suffer from illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome have been eagerly waiting to find out if they’ll be able to use medical marijuana.

But the Rauner administration hasn’t yet announced its decision on recommendations by a state panel to add 11 conditions to the medical marijuana program.

The decision was supposed to be made in August after a board recommended in May to allow the conditions to be added to the limited list.

“The recommendations by the state’s Medical Cannabis Board remain under review,” a spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner said.

She declined to comment on when the administration will announce its decision.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, run by Rauner appointee Nirav Shah, has final authority to approve or deny the recommendations by the board.

But seriously ill patients and those in the fledgling industry hope all of the new conditions are approved by the administration, opening the pool of those who could use medical marijuana.

“They are hopeful each day the administration makes a decision,” said Bresha Brewer, executive director of Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois. “Both the patients and the business community need certainty.”

Michael Fine, the co-chair of the board that made the recommendations, said he is “disenchanted with the process” because of the delay and because the governor’s office is involved in the decision.

“I believe this is coming directly from the top down,” said Fine, who is approved to used medical marijuana. “I don’t think the governor has been supportive of our endeavors  from day one.”

Fine is married to state Rep. Laura Fine, D-Glenview.

Her Springfield colleague Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, is pragmatic about the delay.

“While this should have been done on time, if it’s done fairly soon there won’t be any terrible fallout,” said Lang, who has championed the medical marijuana program. “But it should be done because there are patients with these conditions that check on their computer every day [and wonder] ‘What happened? Was it approved? Can I apply?’ ”

He’s awaiting action from the governor on a bill that would add PTSD to the list of conditions if it fails to be added under the separate Department of Public Health process. Rauner must act on that bill in the coming weeks.