Marijuana was for sick aunt suffering from breast cancer
Laura Llanes does not regret buying her aunt marijuana, even though it has cost her a job as police dispatcher.
She was stunned, nevertheless, when she was fired last week after admitting she bought the marijuana to help relieve her aunt's suffering through breast cancer and chemotherapy.
Marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal with a prescription in 13 states; Illinois is not one of them.
Llanes, 28, of Lake Villa remains adamant she did the right thing, saying her biggest mistake was telling a few co-workers what she had done: "They ratted me out."
Her aunt, who lives in Aurora, was "sick constantly, not eating, not having an appetite. She is diabetic. She has to eat. She was whittling away to nothing," said Llanes.
"I thought I will get her some marijuana so it would get her to eat. It worked. She did get the munchies."
Llanes has not been charged with a crime, but when confronted by her supervisor at CenCom E-9-11, she admitted she had bought marijuana and was promptly fired Wednesday.
"All that mattered was that I admitted to committing an illegal act," she said.
Llanes said she doesn't use marijuana, but she was able to buy some, enough to make about three joints, for her aunt about two weeks ago through a friend. Her aunt smoked the marijuana and said it worked, but, worried about the legal implications, she declined Llanes' offer to buy more.
Llanes has worked seven years as a police dispatcher, the last four for CenCom E9-1-1 in Round Lake Beach. CenCom serves as a centralized dispatch service for eight north suburban police and fire departments.
Calls to CenCom were referred to director Lisa Berger, who did not return messages Monday.
Llanes' aunt, 60, lived with her in 2008 after undergoing a double mastectomy, Llanes said. She has since moved to Aurora and could not be reached Monday, according to Llanes.
"In Illinois, the law offers these folks no protection at all, unfortunately," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbies for the legalization and regulation of marijuana use.
A prescription drug in pill form called Marinol contains synthetic THC, the main ingredient in marijuana. But it doesn't work for everyone, and its results are slow-arriving and unpredictable, Mirken said.
"If you talk to cancer patients, they don't want to get high," he said. "They just don't want to feel sick."
A bill introduced in the legislature calls for allowing the medicinal use of marijuana in a three-year test program. Critics include the Illinois State Police, which opposes the legislation because of concerns about potential abuse and enforcement.
State Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) said she opposes the bill because it lacks support from the greater medical community. "There is absolutely no control over this by a pharmacy," said Bellock.
By Lisa Black
March 17, 2009