Illinois Agency Says No to Cannabis to Treat Chronic Pain

Illinois Agency Says No to Cannabis to Treat Chronic Pain

By Ed Coghlan.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has appealed a decision that would add “intractable pain” as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis.

A 58-year old Illinois woman had sued arguing that medical marijuana would have fewer side effects to treated pain for sacroiliac joint dysfunction and osteoarthritis than the opioids she’s been prescribed, but Public Health Director denied the request saying there wasn’t enough high-quality data from clinical trials to add intractable pain to the list of approved conditions.

As US News and World Report reported last week:  Cook County Circuit Judge Raymond Mitchell called Nirav’s reasoning “clearly erroneous,” citing medical journals that reviewed 45 clinical studies looking at medical marijuana’s effect on treating chronic pain.

Not surprisingly, the position taken by the state agency has raised the ire of a number of chronic pain advocates.

“There is research available demonstrating which clearly demonstrates the value of cannabis in the treatment chronic pain to deny these patients this treatment is unnecessary and immoral,” said Stu Smith, who with his wife Ellen, advocates nationally for medical cannabis for chronic pain.

For Gracie Bagosy-Young, a self-described chronic pain “warrior” who lives in Illinois, she thinks the patient should have some rights of self-determination.

“Cannabis has never killed anyone. That cannot be said about other legal treatments. It makes no sense to continue to block it, unless you benefit from a big pharmaceutical company in some way of course,” she said. “Why not allow chronic pain patients to try this treatment option and decide what works best for themselves? We only get one body and we want to be sure to get it right!”

Ellen Smith is a chronic pain patient who lives in Rhode Island.

“At a time when access to pain management strategies like opioids is decreasing, we must ensure that people with pain have other options. Cannabinoids have well-documented analgesic properties that make medical cannabis an effective medicine to treat many cases of chronic pain,” she said.

“For many seriously ill people, medical cannabis is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering or treats symptoms of their medical condition, without debilitating side effects.  Without the inclusion of Chronic pain as a qualifying condition, many in this state will not have this as an option to consider for pain relief.”

Five states have included intractable pain as a condition permissible for medical cannabis.

By the way, Bagosy-Young also runs the Illinois Cannabis Education Expo which will be held all day on April 22 in Northbrook, Illinois. Here’s a link to register.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Norman Seaton

Many medical conditions qualify as medical marijuana conditions so why chronic pain should be left behind. Many people have found relief after using cannabis in the form balms and topicals. I live in Illinois, where cannabis use for chronic pain is not permissible . Even I want to use it for my pain management as I have the recommendation from But this will be only possible if government approves so. I think this decision should be left to the people as they are the best to judge what’s wrong and right for them.

Who are these self righteous uninformed no pain no compassion people? Then take away alcohol completely from EVERYONE because that is used for pain relief by many , emotional escape… Alcohol does kill people, overdose deaths, car deaths, on on.. calling the kettle black there Illinois to refuse a substance but allow another to shred people who aren’t even sick.

I am a 63- year old woman with progressive MS, severe fibromyalgia, bulging disks, arthritis and numerous other health issues. My state of NH has legalized medical marijuana for people like me, and I use it on a daily basis. My pain level had gotten to the point where it was like being in labor while holding onto an electric fence, for at least several hours a day. My treatment includes opiates, which has turned into a nightmare, as we all know. I now wish I had not registered. I found out that one of the most idiotic things written into the law, is that I am not allowed to purchase a gun. (WHAT?!) I have never bought a gun in my life, but the point is, that in essence I am viewed as a convicted felon. NH has since decriminalized marijuana for everyone, so in hindsight I wish I had waited. I am so tired of Government, at any level, trying to micro-manage our lives, and messing everything up in the process. I just wanted to pass this info on, for what it’s worth.

Patricia Wozniak

I would like to know their definition of “intractable pain”.

Also, what is their definition of high quality data?

So sorry these people continue to be ill informed and ignorant.


Hi Dr Ibsen,
Your post did not address the consensus of experience, shown here, from people who are managing chronic pain.
You state that 2 000 people’s chronic pain “decreased” after weaning off opioid pain relief.
Really !!?
This so-called evidence shows that either the surveyed people
1. had a co-incidental improvement of mild, 3 - 6 months (non-chronic) pain, or 2. did not have severe (if any) physical pain, in the first place. This type of person reacts similarly to placebo treatment as they have *non-physical* pain.
Lastly of great significance, if in severe, chronic pain *were they coerced, misled or duped into giving these answers.
I doubt they were speaking freely.*
By the way, I perceive an abundance of intelligence in the other posts… the very people who should be consulted by the law makers. Thank you for sharing your experiences, which have similarities to my own… systemic and progressive RSD/CRPS, managed for 33 years (mostly without opioids).
My post took an inordinant amount of time and extra pain to type (as many others here), which is why I have to stop now.
All the best to you all. 😊


First I would like to comment to Dr. Ilbsen’s post, not knowing what u r medical specialty is & not knowing the illnesses of u r patients, I do feel there r many chronically ill people, who tolate the side effects of pain medicine because their pain is so horrific & get out of bed due to, the pain meds controlling their pain. Of course u r patients who don’t have a horrific illness that causes pain, would feel better without the side effects of pain meds. Please, don’t include all of us in u r analysis. As for Illinois, it’s a shame they don’t understand how much cannabis helps certain illnesses.


Pains the first thing it should be approved for. What the h is wrong with people. The big bad high and mighty . Should be fired or kicked off hiw perch.

Sandy M.

Hi Dr. Ibsen, I wish I could be one of those people you describe. I still have to pay the bills, even with cognitive problems, with my husband’s help of course, just so I can still be of so use, plus it’s a sort of distraction keeping up with monthly bills. My grandchildren are wonderful distractions. It’s just the pain I suffer no matter what I do. I certainly don’t walk around or lay around all day, with my mind on nothing but the pain. Although there are days, i just hurt so bad, I can cannot get out of bed. I try so very hard to read, I’m up in the middle of the night, but can’t read, watch TV. I use to love to read, however, since this hemorrhage in my brain 18 years ago, I cannot retrieve what I have read later. I have CD’s and my phone can read the Bible to me, as well as other articles. I am so thankful for this. I attended 4 pain management clinics before all this opioid crises arose and even after trying injections on my back and different procedures for my arms and the spasicity that goes along with this condition, it prevents me from being able to write or type. These posts take me hours to type. After being a legal secretary for over 35 years, now I have such cognitive problems, and it’s so very frustrating. I need the medication Neurontin, the first medication my Neurologist at that time prescribed for me because the left side of my face mainly, feeling like I’m slobbering, feels like my face it is pulled over to the side of my face, it burns, down my left arm and leg, it feels like that entire side is paralyzed. I’ve tried Lyrica and many other medications, as well as the generic for Neurontin, and none of those work for this sensation and feeling I have that causes the constant numbness, tingling, weakness in my legs, and one of the worse conditions, the burning….. my leg weakness has progressed the last year to the point I cannot go many places, I have bowel and bladder dysfunction, weight gain and still have back problems. Everyone of the pain management doctors told me there was nothing they could do for my Central Pain. My neurologist, who I’ve known for 35 years, has retired and he said in all his over 40 years or so years of practice, I was only the 2nd person he had ever treated for this condition. There just is no cure. Unless you want them to go into your brain. I had a friend thru a stroke group on the Internet from the East Coast and she came to Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, IL for a type of surgery thru the brain that has helped some people, but she ended up getting an awful infection. After a few years of trying all these different pain managements facilities, each telling me… Read more »


Oklahoma will be voting this summer on the first MMJ plan to let your physician decide what condition makes you a candidate to try cannabis!
May it pass, and spread!!

IMO, the government should NEVER have a roll that gets between the patient/doctor relationship. When it does, it has overshot its place.

Good luck, Illinois!

Steven Smith

There are plenty of States now where cannabis is legal. Some patients live in one of them and they still can’t touch marijuana. If she honestly believes that she would do better with cannabis then it makes sense to move to one of them. But for a severe constant pain sufferer I doubt you can stoned 24/7. It is hard enough dealing with the side effects of the opiates that we do have left. I would however leave this for a last resort. Your doctor may not let you come back after trying marijuana. That I don’t know so be sure and ask before you quit opiates. You get fired for failing a drug test you won’t get back probably.

Mark Ibsen MD

The physician-patient relationship is founded on the scientific model. There is evidence in the 2,000 patients I have seen,
Weaned off opiates
Who claim better sleep
Decreased pain and
Ability to work, pay taxes and care for their families.
The only lack of evidence here is that this bureaucrat has a brain.

Jeffry Roush

The corrupt that run the state of Illinois are addicted to forfeiture assets from prohibition of marijuana. Which is ridiculous when the state would receive billions more from legalized tax revenue. Revenue that would pay for more effective treatment…

Sandy M

I’m from Illinois and I think this is one, if not the worse state in the U.S. for anything. The state is broke because all the politicians are evil and greedy and only care about themselves. My husband worked as a firefighter for over 22 years, and they took our insurance, everything away because the state is broke, now whose fault is that. I know there are some good men and women, but there are so many evil, greedy politicians from this state. Look how many are in jail or been in jail!. I worked over 35 years until my hemorrhage in the thalamus part of the brain 18 years ago, I didn’t just jump right into a pain med, I went thru every procedure, injection medication there is for over 4 years until I found something that gave me just a little relief, just enough to get out of bed and do a few chores some days, but see all the people with money, they have everything done for them, they don’t have to do anything, they have someone wake them up, their clothes are all ready, breakfast is ready, and a car waiting to take them to an office. I don’t think many of them spend a good 8 hours doing anything. It shouldn’t take months and years to get something done in D.C. It’s ridiculous, all the money they make, but they could care less for people like us, who suffer in constant, horrific, horrible, pain each day and night of our lives; Nobody in D.C. gives a darn about any of us, but I bet you if any of those in congress gets pain, they get what they want. All they care about is another year in congress. Some of those old guys and gals are so old, they aren’t in the “REAL WORLD.” We need to get them out, I’m so tired of hurting and being in pain, the stroke left me with Central Pain, nobody seems to know how to treat it, there is only one way! Then I had a deformed back with Scoliosis so bad, 9 hours on the surgical table and an entire back full of metal; I had to have heart surgery also. My back was done 5 years ago and I can hardly walk anymore, but the surgeon said he would see me in 10 years. I told him I hoped I wouldn’t be here in 10 more years of hell. I can’t believe people in this state cannot even get medical marijuana now to help ease their pain. What sick bunch of politicians! I have never tried it, but was thinking of trying it, now that is another option that won’t work out. I’m just so tired of being treated like a junkie when I only take one 4 mg. pain pill that gives me relief for about 1-2 hours, but anything is better than nothing. I’m sick of all this so called research, stretch and bend and… Read more »


Wow.I had a three hour shoulder surgery in 1999,the night I came home the pain was horrible,took tons of opiates,nothing worked,finally as a last resort,I smoked an illegal
marijuana joint of “Northern Lights” .The pain went away before I finished half the joint,
cannabis does work for pain,just not in all instances.I can’t believe they are doing this,
how stupid.

Drew Quinn

Pathetic! But not surprising.