Illinois Department of Health Continues to Fail

This past week the Sun Times Editorial Board published an opinion piece about the problems Illinois has had with delays in issuing medical marijuana licenses. It’s really good and I recommend reading it. I’d like to discuss it and the issue it’s covering in this blog. Here are some of the facts: Applicants are supposed to be issued their license within 30 days or less, but the Illinois department of health has done a horrible job of hitting that goal. Even more disgraceful as the Sun Times notes, is that patients with terminal diseases who are supposed to be able to get their cards within two weeks are seeing delays too. This is another story about bureaucratic mismanagement and the complete lack of humanity in those bureaucracy’s causing pain to people. It’s a story as old as America itself, and even older. Put simply, the Illinois department of health isn’t just failing because of structural flaws, even though there are plenty of those. As the Sun Times implies, they are failing because they don’t really care about the pain they are causing. Thousands of people are suffering with a ready made solution that can at the very least relieve them of pain, but can’t access it because of red tape. It is infuriating. As the article shows, taxes raised on Marijuana businesses are now up to over 11 million. What is being done with this money? Well, nothing. It sits unspent even as the department of health continues to flounder in processing applications because of how pathetically understaffed it is. These issues have plagued the Illinois medical marijuana program since its conception and there are no signs that anyone really cares about fixing it in the department. According to the Times, “Illinois’ pilot medical marijuana program, which is set to expire in 2020, has been dogged by delays. It didn’t go into operation until about two years after it was approved. Supporters of the program had hoped to have 100,000 people signed up by now, but there are only about 34,000, according to IDPH numbers released Wednesday. The shortfall is putting a financial squeeze on businesses set up to cultivate or dispense medical marijuana.” The department has somehow managed to not even reach half its goal. One of the department’s spokesperson went so far as to blame the applicants, claiming that there were frequent errors. The Times piece argued that wasn’t persuasive. I agree, and I think it reaches the point of victim blaming. Again the most disgusting thing about this whole issue to me is the complete lack of urgency because they just don’t care. They don’t mind people being in pain (because of their delays) in all likelihood because the Department probably doesn’t treat that pain and the ability to reduce it from Medical Marijuana as legitimate.This is speculation but it is based on my observations about Bureaucracy’s complete lack of empathy, Illinois’ having to be dragged kicking and screaming even into the most conservative form of legalization, and the utter incompetence and lack of urgency the department has shown in fixing this issue. Why do we leave issues of incredible human importance to organizations that don’t even have any humanity?

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