Medical marijuana advocates applaud Rauner’s support to expand state’s pilot program

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Dry medical marijuana buds

CHICAGO (AP) — Medical marijuana advocates are applauding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s about-face on expanding Illinois’ pilot program, saying it will allow time to show the program is worthwhile and help more patients who are suffering.

Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang announced an agreement late Friday with the Republican governor to extend Illinois’ four-year pilot program to 2020. It had been set to end in 2018, but supporters argued more time was needed because medical cannabis sales just started in November 2015.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the Legislature, also adds post-traumatic stress syndrome and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions. Rauner had previously rejected recommendations to add conditions.

Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple is chairwoman of Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. She says she’s “thrilled” more patients will benefit.

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