Illinois Medical Cannabis Legislation Introduced

By chillinwill · Feb 12, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    SPRINGFIELD- Illinois could become the next state to protect the sick and terminally ill from arrest for using cannabis under the recommendation of their physician. State Senator William Haine introduced Senate Bill 1381 today, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which would allow those with a physician’s recommendation to possess up to two ounces of usable cannabis and up to seven plants.

    Currently 13 states allow the physician recommended use of cannabis and about 24% of Americans live in a state that protects medical cannabis patients. Cannabis can be helpful in treating numerous conditions and those qualifying for protection under the act include glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy treatment for cancer, hepatitis c, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, chronic pain, Alzheimer's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

    Under the proposed legislation the Dept. of Public Health would issue registry cards for patients and their caregivers. The legislation states that cannabis plants must be grown in an enclosed locked facility and does not allow for cannabis to be smoked in public or on public transportation. It would also not be permitted on school or correctional facility property.

    Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 February 2009 )
    Illinois Norml

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  1. chillinwill
    Sponsor Lou Lang: 'We Have A Responsibility To Alleviate Pain And Suffering'

    A state House committee on Wednesday passed a bill that will legalize medical marijuana in Illinois if approved.

    HB 2514, also called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, passed the state House Human Services Committee 4-3, according to an aide for State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who is sponsoring the bill.
    Lang said it is the first time a House proposal for medical marijuana has ever gotten off the floor. He told CBS 2 that he expects to work hard in the coming week telling colleagues in the state House "that we have nothing to fear from this bill, and we have a responsibility to alleviate pain and suffering for the citizens of Illinois."

    The bill specifies that marijuana can alleviate pain for patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Chron's disease and several other disorders.

    Pointing to those with pain or nausea from chemotherapy, Lang said other than medical marijuana, "People cannot get relief in any other place, except totally sedating and debilitating medication that makes them unable to cope with life."

    "Strong evidence shows that this is very significant help to them in their life, and I don't understand why anybody would be against this," Lang said.

    He said political posturing was to blame for opposition to the bill. Critics of medical marijuana legislation have raised concerns about abuse of the law. Since California became the first state to approve medical marijuana in 1996, many complaints have arisen that doctor's notes are too easy to obtain and that the law has resulted in the opening of storefront dispensaries.

    Lang said the Illinois bill is highly controlled with built-in restrictions.

    ""This is a very controlled bill. It doesn't allow anyone to have more than seven plants," Lang said. "Second, we have to be able to trust the medical community." He said there is little outcry when doctors prescribe massive amounts of morphine, Vicodin or codeine to alleviate pain.

    "It's only when you start talking about cannabis that people start talking about that, because they're looking for an excuse to be against the bill," he said.

    If approved, the medical marijuana law would expire in three years, after which point it would have to be renewed. If problems or abuses arose, Lang said, "after three years, we could always let the law expire and be done with it."

    Lang said he has not yet spoken with Gov. Pat Quinn about the bill, but anticipates that Quinn will support it.

    A total of 13 states now permit medicinal marijuana in some form, although marijuana remains illegal in all forms under federal law. Scenes of federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raiding marijuana dispensaries in California have been frequent in recent years.

    "We have 13 states today that allow the use of cannabis for medical reasons, and they haven't shut down those operations," Lang said. "Secondly, the Obama administration has already signaled publicly that they don't have an interest in making this part of their law enforcement priority list."

    Lang said he has not yet spoken with Gov. Pat Quinn about the bill, but anticipates that Quinn will support it.

    State lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to pass a medical marijuana bill previously, although not in the House. A similar bill passed out of a state Senate committee in 2007, but failed in the full Senate.

    Technically, Illinois authorized medical marijuana in 1978. But implementation was left to the Public Health Department and it never took action, so the law has been in limbo.

    The movement on the medical marijuana legislation came the same day as a Chicago Sun-Times columnist's call to repeal the federal prohibition.

    Steve Huntley wrote in support of an effort by a California state lawmaker to legalize marijuana, regulate it similarly to alcohol, and tax it at a rate of $50 per ounce, which would require a change in federal law to enact.

    Huntley said fully legalizing marijuana could both raise tax revenue and cut down enforcement costs, and to help curb the violence associated with the drug trade.

    "Marijuana prohibition no longer makes sense, if it ever did," Huntley wrote. "For the record, my recreational chemical of choice is alcohol. After the sun sets, I like to enjoy a glass of wine or scotch. Why shouldn't my neighbor, if so inclined, be able to relax with a joint?"

    Lang said he saw Huntley's column on Wednesday, and said of the latest California proposal, "I think it's far too early to go there."

    "California is talking about legalizing marijuana because they think it will help their economy," Lang said. "They want to turn marijuana into a tobacco product to help their budget gap," a move he called "cynical."

    Some Illinois municipalities have reduced the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in recent years. In south suburban Chicago Heights, a law was recently passed that made possession of less than 30 grams result in a ticket and an administrative hearing, rather than criminal charges.

    By Adam Harrington
    Mar 4, 2009 12:53 pm US/Central
    CBS2 Chicago
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