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“I feel the state of Illinois is forcing me toward opioid use when a better alternative exists”

Friday, Feb 9, 2018

* Rolling Meadows resident Ann Mednick writing in the Sun-Times

Pain defines my life.

It starts in my hip and flows from there like from a leaking faucet. The pain dominates my thoughts and my time, as I think about how to lessen it. It forces me to sit on and sleep with ice packs. It keeps me from doing things I love.

But if pain is the thief that stole my quality of life, the state of Illinois is its accomplice. A remedy exists that would significantly lessen my pain — and do so without damaging side effects. It works but the state won’t let me have it.

She has sacroiliac joint dysfunction and osteoarthritis.

* Mrs. Mednick would like access to medical marijuana for her intractable pain. She doesn’t want the opioids her doctors are prescribing

Since my pain became acute, I have seen numerous doctors and received countless prescriptions and shots. Doctors have given me fentanyl patches without hesitation. Fentanyl, of course, is an opioid — a class of drugs that is killing people in record numbers. In 2016, some 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, the overwhelming majority from opioids.

Opioids have wreaked havoc on my life and I want nothing to do with them. On fentanyl, I became a prisoner — even more of one than I am now. I could not leave my house for fear of being more than a few steps from a bathroom. I lost 80 pounds. The drug made me horribly sick and worse, it clouded my mind. There were days where I didn’t know if I could get out of bed.

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted 10-0 to add intractable pain to the approved list of conditions for medical marijuana. But Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah struck it down. A Cook County judge then overruled Shah.

* Mednick concludes

Dr. Shah seems to think that if I want to reduce my pain, I should use opioids. I don’t know what else to conclude. I feel the state of Illinois is forcing me toward opioid use when a better alternative exists. For my sake, and for the sake of chronic pain sufferers across Illinois, I hope Dr. Shah will reconsider.

Too late. IDPH and Director Shah filed a notice to appeal the judge’s decision a few hours before Mrs. Mednick’s op-ed was published.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Politically incorrect - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    What are the chances the courts overrule Dr. Shah again?

  2. - perry noya - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:08 am:

    I have a relative in the same situation. He has testified before his state’s legislature and met the same resistance. Yet another reason, as if one were needed, to oppose Rauner.

  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:11 am:


    People want to get off dangerous, addictive narcotics that are killing people all over the country and the Rauner administration has reefer madness.

    Where did Shah get his medical degree, a box of Cracker Jax?

  4. - Techie - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:12 am:

    Cannabis may be a lot of fun, but it’s also incredibly medicinal. It contains many cannabinoids such as THC and CBD which have strong medicinal properties such as pain relief, restoring appetite (very helpful for some chemo patients), anti-inflammatory properties, anti-seizure properties, anti-cancer properties, anti-anxiety properties (can be very helpful for those who have PTSD), and more.

    It may sound hyperbolic, but cannabis is literally probably the most beneficial medicinal plant on Earth - at least that we know of. We need to regulate it properly, but it absolutely should be legal.

  5. - downstate commissioner - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Brucey’s comments about the Legionnaire’s disease is indicative of his feelings about this subject. He doesn’t care, and he is doing a great job.

  6. - A guy - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:18 am:

    This is just heart breaking.

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:23 am:

    Now that we know that the governor’s “blind trust” is anything but, can we get some transparency as what he’s investing in to ensure there are no conflicts with his office?

    Those funds he lists on his statement of economic interest are not transparent.

    To be blunt, how much does he have invested in pharmaceutical companies? They’be been fighting med mar from the start.

  8. - NoUseForAName - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:24 am:

    @ wordslinger - While Shah is a doctor, as you must be to be the Director of DPH, he doesn’t practice medicine. He is a well educated man who also has a law degree and that is what he practiced prior to being named Director.

    Probably neither here nor there, but maybe offers some insight into why the man operates the way he does.

  9. - Scott Cross for President - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:24 am:


    Get. Out. Of. The. Way.

    Let doctors, patients and their families make their medical decisions. You’re not needed or wanted in the room.

  10. - Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    What happened to the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board? If Shah is just going to ignore their recommendations, why does the Board even exist? Something’s hinky.

  11. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    - This is just heart breaking. -

    You’re such a phony. Go on defending Rauner at every turn then pretending you’re sympathetic to the willful lunacy he is literally in charge of.

  12. - Sigh - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    In reference to Shah —-He is a well educated man who also has a law degree and that is what he practiced prior to being named Director.—-

    He may be well educated as in book smart, but his two last appearances before the joint Veterans Affairs Committees cause me to question his “street IQ” and ability to interact with members of the General Assembly.

    Once again, he is not a licensed physician and you do not have to be a doctor to be the director. If the director is not a physican, then IDPH must have a medical director (another position) that oversees certain IDPH responsibilities.

  13. - Belle - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    Dr Shah must be pretty ignorant of the possibilities with medical marijuana. Many people choose to have it prepared without the THC, eliminating the fun-factor and resale value.
    But, the author could possibly use CBD oil…maybe it doesn’t work for her.

  14. - Rutro - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:52 am:

    Ridiculous, she can buy whiskey, get a prescription for opioids, buy cigarettes (which is probably the hardest of the three to quit, most lethal), but can’t get legal marijuana. Come on. It would be interesting to see if Bruce’s blind trust has any opioid/pharma stock, then at least this would make sense.

  15. - Techie - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    Belle - yes, I agree about the CBD oil. CBD extracted from hemp (not marijuana) is legal in all 50 states. CBD is a cannabinoid which, among other things, definitely helps with pain.

    For example,

  16. - Barrington - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 10:55 am:

    Wordslinger at10:23, right on about Rauner and pharmeceutical companies.

  17. - People - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:03 am:

    Haven’t you learned by now il. Politics isn’t about what’s good for the people it’s the shoe box under the bed that matters

  18. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    Didn’t they abolish the Board so that Shah wouldn’t be embarrassed by rejecting its recommendations over and over? Now it’s purely at his whim.

  19. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    How is this issue not a negative campaign ad against Rauner yet?

    Shows his cruelty? check
    Shows him wasting taxpayer $ on frivolous lawsuits? check
    Shows him out of step with majority of IL voters? check

  20. - Lil Squeezy - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    Never thought I would be saying this, but whats with politicians protecting dangerous drug dealers?

  21. - @misterjayem - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:13 am:

    In light of Rauner’s “we would not do anything different” regarding Quincy, his stubborn intransigence regarding medical marijuana is perfectly in character.

    Other people’s suffering has never been a big deal to Bruce Rauner.

    – MrJM

  22. - Ali Nagib - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    Anon @11:08 correctly answered Roland’s question, the previous Board was disbanded as a part of SB10 in summer 2016.

  23. - NoUseForAName - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:39 am:

    @Sigh - you are correct, I forget that they changed it back in the 80’s. Though there have only been two who haven’t been (Kempiners and Kirkpatrick), and only one since the change.

    And I never equated intelligence or street smarts with being well educated, simply pointing out a fact about the man. Nor did I say he maintains a license, simply that he has had the degree conferred upon him and that he IS an MD.

  24. - Downstate - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:12 pm:

    If Dems were smart they would run the Steans/Cassidy bills this summer and put the Governor and other Republicans on the spot. That legislation touches a lot of areas that somebody could campaign on (opiod crisis, tax revenue, majority will, etc.)

  25. - frisbee - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    Techie, FDA still says CBD is illegal, grown from hemp or not. The fuzz just isn’t enforcing it very much and even if they did go after hemp based CBD producers/retailers it would be just a big whack a mole effort.

    I don’t agree with it but that is just what the FDA has determined with CBD… The Advisory Board was a great idea but completely undermined by the BVR/Shah efforts. I find it odd that BVR issued the med mar licenses after Quinn failed to, yet he has hampered the program in other ways such as with the Advisory Board. BVR did sign an extension into law and add PTSD & terminal illness (how was that part of the original list?!?) which only further confuses the frisbee’s spinning mind.

  26. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:19 pm:

    Her argument doesn’t work in the real world. We don’t blame the laws when bad thing happen to us.

  27. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    –Her argument doesn’t work in the real world. We don’t blame the laws when bad thing happen to us.–

    I’m certain that Mednick is in the real world. What in the world are you talking about?

    She wants to get off dangerous, addictive opioids for a med mar option. If you’re concerned about drug abuse and fatal overdoses, you should welcome that.

    For crying out loud, the docs have her on fentanyl. That’s exponentially more powerful than any heroin on the street.

    For the life of me, what is the issue here?

  28. - Demoralized - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:37 pm:

    ==Her argument doesn’t work in the real world.==

    You mean the real world of her pain? That real world?

    ==We don’t blame the laws when bad thing happen to us.==

    You do when that law has a direct correlation on that bad thing happening.

    Why in the world do you care if someone is using marijuana if it helps them medically? What business is it of yours on someone else’s medical treatment?

    This anti-medical marijuana stance from some of you baffles me. You seem to think you know what’s best for someone else.

  29. - sulla - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 2:04 pm:

    “I firmly believe that people are born into this world with only one real possession. You. Your body. You are the proud owner of this tired sack of bones and organs. So for me the drug war is a property rights issue. I believe that each of us owns our own meat. And if someone else can tell you what you can and can’t do with your meat, then you’re not truly free.”

    - Doug Stanhope

  30. - logic not emotion - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 3:50 pm:

    I don’t particularly have a dog in this fight; but do suggest everyone do a bit of research before going postal on any medical provider (or IDPH Director) who isn’t doing all they can to expand Medical Cannabis.

    “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t found that marijuana is safe or effective for treating any health problems. … States have legalized medical marijuana because of decisions made by voters or legislators—not because of scientific evidence of its benefits and risks.”

  31. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 3:52 pm:

    ==hasn’t found that marijuana is safe==

    I haven’t heard of a rash of deaths from marijuana

    ==or effective==

    Tell that to the people benefiting from it.

  32. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    LNE, since 1970, the federal government has designated marijuana a Sched I controlled substance, by definition, meaning that it is a dangerous drug with no medicinal value.

    That bars virtually any federal research into the substance.

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