Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Medical marijuana board rips Rauner's rejections


By Celeste Bott

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner came under fire Monday as the doctors, nurses and patients on a state panel that recommends whether to expand Illinois' medical marijuana test program complained their suggestions are routinely ignored.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board suggested that 10 previously recommended ailments receive approval, as well two new ones: Type 1 diabetes and panic disorder.

As some at a hearing celebrated the diabetes recommendation, board member and pediatrician Dr. Nestor Ramirez cautioned the crowd to "wait for what the governor says."

"We don't get everything that we want on this board anyway, several times over," said board chair Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple.

Rauner's Illinois Department of Public Health has rejected the board's past recommendations. The governor, who inherited the medical marijuana program, has been reluctant to broaden access, instead calling for further study of the drug's benefits and risks.

But supporters said public access to marijuana should be a matter of compassion, not science, arguing that people were suffering and shouldn't have to wait for continued research.

Farah Zala Morales, who works at a medical marijuana dispensary, spoke on behalf of her 12-year-old daughter, Mira, who has Type 1 diabetes. Morales said the drug helped ease her daughter's discomfort and stabilize her blood sugar so she didn't have to inject herself with insulin as often and could maintain good grades and play sports.

Medical marijuana advocates ask Gov. Rauner to expand the program

Medical marijuana advocates ask Gov. Rauner to expand the program

Robert McCoppin

Medical marijuana advocates are mounting a petition drive and social media campaign to convince Gov. Bruce Rauner to greatly expand the program in Illinois — but the governor hasn't yet given any indication he would do so.

The campaign is driven in part by industry officials who fear their businesses...

Medical marijuana advocates are mounting a petition drive and social media campaign to convince Gov. Bruce Rauner to greatly expand the program in Illinois — but the governor hasn't yet given any indication he would do so.

The campaign is driven in part by industry officials who fear their businesses...

"She feels pain, burning sensations all over at the injection sites," Morales said. "She still manages to keep it all together and be an amazing person (even with) all this discomfort that she feels on a daily basis."

Panic disorders drew more support from the board. "Having the option (of medical marijuana), instead of just putting someone on four-times-a-day Xanax, would be very useful," said Dr. Eric Christoff, an HIV specialist at Northwestern Medicine.

The board rejected using medical marijuana for persistent depressive disorder, Lyme disease and MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection.

Ten conditions Rauner's public health agency rejected again were autism, chronic pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, neuropathy, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain due to trauma, chronic post-op pain, intractable pain, migraines and osteoarthritis.


Twitter @celestebott

Above is from:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-illinois-medical-marjiuana-20160502-story.html

Belvidere struggles to keep Rockford bus route, needs to raise $157,869 by July


By Susan Vela
Staff writer

Posted May 2, 2016 at 2:38 PM
Updated May 2, 2016 at 5:31 PM

BELVIDERE — Belvidere resident Lydia Brown spent last year taking a bus to her dialysis appointments in Rockford.
She relied on the bus nearly every day for other errands, too. Like other Boone County seniors, she's worried that the Rockford Mass Transit District, or RMTD, will suspend the Belvidere-Rockford route unless the city of Belvidere raises $157,869 to replace a federal grant due to expire at the end of June.
Playing Uno on Friday at the Keen Age Center, Brown and her friends hoped Belvidere officials could come up with the money.
“What they need to do is find out how the community feels about the bus,” said Belvidere resident Jenny Keepers, 67.
Belvidere City Council members set aside $25,000 this year for the 5-year-old bus route that takes nearly 1,500 passengers each month from the Kmart at 500 W. Chrysler Drive in Belvidere to the RMTD Transfer Center, 725 N. Lyford Road, in Rockford. The route also stops at SwedishAmerican Medical Center, 1625 S. State St., in Belvidere; Meadow Street in Belvidere; and Keen Age, 2141 Henry Luckow Lane.
The City Council started pitching in during last year's budget cycle, contributing $25,000 then as well.
Mayor Mike Chamberlain has met with RMTD officials and considered making a formal request for financial assistance from Belvidere Township and Boone County. Belvidere Township Supervisor Patrick Murphy could not be reached for comment. Boone County officials aren’t sure what they can afford to do.
“It’s an essential service for some folks,” Chamberlain said. “It seems very shortsighted to me to not want to participate in a vital service. Transportation is a particularly important link to reducing unemployment. Hopefully, when we meet again, there will be some other municipal governments who can help in some fashion.”
RMTD created the route in 2011 after receiving a four-year Job Access and Reverse Commute grant, but RMTD spokeswoman Lisa Brown said the grant will expire this summer. It financed the route with a $103,102 grant that first year, $147,897 the second year and $154,680 the third year.
For this current budget cycle, the grant amounts to $151,580. For the entire route that runs 10 times daily Monday through Friday, state funds contribute $292,374. Fares cover the rest. The total cost is $454,822.
Brown said Belvidere officials have known since the start that the grant stream would eventually dry up.

“It’s up to the community to fund their services,” Brown said. “At this point, we’re still hopeful there will be services in some way, shape or form. We’re not going to the mattresses yet. We’re confident in the negotiation process.”

Officials from Belvidere, Boone County and the Boone County Council on Aging met with Brown last week. They haven’t set dates, but they’re confident they will meet again for more discussions.
Boone County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said he’s in favor of supporting the RMTD Belvidere route if he can find money in the county’s coffers. The county operates on a $16.2 million spending plan.
“We’re going to look at some county budgets and look at what latitude, if any, there is,” Terrinoni said. “We do need to go to our County Board. We don’t have funds at this moment, but we’re going to take a look, and we agreed to meet again.”
The county already sets aside $124,140 for 10 small buses that transport residents to various places, including Keen Age. The county contributes $55,000. The city of Belvidere pays $41,000, and state grants total $28,140.
“That is not affected by this (RMTD Belvidere route) discussion,” Terrinoni said. “That program continues.”
Boone County Board member Denny Ellingson said he’d be in favor of money for the Belvidere bus route if the county could afford it.
“I would almost be surprised if we have enough to be able to do that at this time,” he said. “(However), it would help Belvidere, but it would also help other citizens of the county. It would be a nice thing to be able to do.”
Susan Vela: 815-987-1392; svela@rrstar.com; @susanvela

Belvidere Bus Route Monthly Ridership


Above story is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/news/20160502/belvidere-struggles-to-keep-rockford-bus-route-needs-to-raise-157869-by-july/?Start=2