Chronic pain could be added to list of qualifiers for medical marijuana in Illinois

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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – At present, there are 41 conditions that qualify a person for a medical marijuana license in Illinois. On January 15, an Illinois judge ruled to add “intractable” or chronic pain to that list.

While that’s not set in stone, the state is appealing the ruling; but others are hoping it stands.

Alfonzo Butler, a veteran and avid golfer, said years of the sport took a toll on his back and spine. Butler said in 1985 he went to the VA hospital where he was prescribed opiates for the pain. He said those didn’t sit well with his stomach, so he eventually stopped taking the medicine. For 10 years, Butler said he just tried to live with the pain.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Butler said his pain was at about an 8 or 9 every day. He was barely able to move around.

Butler suffered from chronic neck and back pain. Lucky for him, about two years ago he qualified for a medical marijuana license because of his spinal disease.

Now at 74-years-old, Butler said he feels better than he did at age 44.

Scott Abbott, the Chief Operating Officer of HCI Alternatives in Collinsville, comes from a law enforcement background. He said he was hesitant about medical cannabis at first, but after meeting people like Butler he strongly believes it can help people with chronic pain.

Abbot also said marijuana is losing its “pot” or “weed” stigma and people are really opening up to the idea of medical cannabis.

“People are having these conversation among neighbors and coworkers and saying someone I know started taking cannabis and had really good success,” said Abbott.

While the judge’s ruling is being appealed by the state, it’s not clear if or when chronic pain will be added to the qualifying list.