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Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Advances With Favorable House Committee Vote

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #575)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

For the first time, a medical marijuana bill has won an Illinois House committee vote. The House Human Services Committee voted 4-3 Wednesday to send forward HB 2514, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

Under the bill, persons diagnosed by a physician as suffering a debilitating medical condition and their caretakers would be issued an ID card and placed on a registry run by the Department of Public Health. Each patient could possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana and seven plants. If enacted, the Illinois medical marijuana law would expire after three years and have to be reenacted.

A companion bill, SB 1381, is pending in the state Senate. It is sponsored by former state's attorney Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) and is scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday.

Wednesday's House committee vote came after public testimony from proponents and opponents of the bill. Medical marijuana patient Lucie MacFarlane, 46, of Joliet, told the panel she uses the herb to relieve the constant pain she suffers from neurofibromatosis and a surgery that left her spine fused.

"Doctors need every safe, effective medicine available to them when treating patients with serious conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Jay Riseman, a Springfield physician who testified before the committee. "I've seen medical marijuana work for patients when nothing else did, and I should be able to recommend it to my patients without leaving them vulnerable to arrest and even jail."

House bill sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was perhaps the bill's most ardent advocate. "People cannot get relief in any other place, except totally sedating and debilitating medication that makes them unable to cope with life," he said, pointing to MacFarlane and other patients. "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.

But Lang understood all too well the opposition and blamed posturing politicians looking for any excuse to kill it. Addressing concerns raised by the California experience -- a much more wide open system than that envisioned in his bill -- Lang said the legislation is tightly drafted. "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.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


mlang52 (not verified)

I find it sad the Mr Lang actually thinks doctors "prescribe massive amounts of morphine, Vicodin, or codeine to alleviate pain". Most doctors are afraid to prescribe pain medications to their patients in fear of the DEA and other authorities. Doctors that compassionately treat chronic pain patients are being put in prison for it! It is a myth that they are prescribing massive amounts". The war on pain doctors is another thing that might not be as much of a problem if people are allowed to use cannabis for chronic pain. It decreases the need for the opiates that are prescribed, at sub-therapeutic levels, to so many patients!

There may be little outcry, but the DEA people sure have made the doctors afraid to practice the "standard of care". That "standard of care" has been modified by the people that can control the doctors. Another sad thing being, those controlling the patients' medical care, for the most part, are not physicians, but law enforcement. Why should they be?

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 12:48pm Permalink
David Dunn (not verified)

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense if states got off the kick of using the term "marijuana"? "Marijuana" is a pejorative term commonly used to refer to the cannabinoid THC.

States should simply pass laws that permits states to use "cannabis" in whatever forms it is found to be beneficial. There are other cannabinoids that have medical value besides THC.

There are over 40 known cannabinoids and perhaps even 60. It's been estimated that there may be as many as 1,000 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

State universities should be allowed to grow cannabis plants and develop whatever products they find useful and beneficial to produce whatever kinds of products the cannabis plant can best be grown to support.

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

— Thomas Jefferson

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 6:22pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

1. David: I agree with you generally but here are some thoughts on the word "marijuana":

a. It is a disparaging term, because resembling the Mexican word "Americana" (aren't Mexicans inferior?), the word is thought by some users to be an effective way of insulting someone;

b. We could rename the high-resin strains Cannabis robusta ameriwana;

c. If as I expect these laws are reformed, our society could resolve many bitter disagreements and achieve a PAX AMERIWAMA.

2. Two ounces of herb, sifted through 1/16"-mesh screening for smooth-burning uniform particle size and used in a narrow screened-crater 25-mg. serving-size utensil (long-stemmed one-hitter for high-grade one-hit herb), adds up to around 1800 tokes, enough for a year at my rate of use. Think how many more thousands of tokes if you grow seven plants. (Pot? Seeds go to flower POT and stems to tea POT.)

3. Legal use, even if only for medical patients, will ease the pressure against "paraphernalia" (i.e. anything SAFER than hot-burning overdose cigaret papers), and de facto legalize the long-stemmed one-hitter and, with it, the vaporizer and the E-CIGARETTE with THC in the cartridge instead of nicotine.

4. Then once all cannabis users (and tobacco users, which is why the big companies are fighting it) have shifted from "joint" and "blunt" to safe nanodose equipment (25-mg.), the sudden drastic disappearance of overdose-related pathologies will knock the legs out from under any remaining arguments for prohibiting riefer as either "drug" or "dangerous".

Sat, 03/07/2009 - 6:20pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

miang and dave, thank you for your livly discussion and intelligent ideas! I have six spinal fused verts and three broken ribs and had to Run to Oregon to get the medical cannabis I have to have to get Off the percocets and morphene. You are totally right about the law creeps terrorizing on the pain control doctors! God bless these nice, brave doctors for risking their licenses and all those years in school to help me from the burning fiery pain that tears me up awake and asleep! Let the ill among us grow our plants in our home without terror from the adrenalized police. With lots of pot, strong heavy hitter stuff, I lose 50-100% of the post surgical pain that fries me alive. Cannabis is what I will continue to need in the future and I, personally, will need lots more than two ounces to help control the migraines from the brain injuries that will Never heal. God bless us, cops and all, to continue to evolve the next step, which is behavior, which is FORGIVENESS!

Mon, 03/16/2009 - 1:37pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

We all have the INALIENABLE RIGHT to medicate ourselves. Look it up.
Our government, in its infinite insanity, strips our rights away, then sells them back to us. AND acts all magnanimous about it each time. I, for one, will not be dictated to any longer. I will make up my own mind, thank you.
So, now my government wants to write me a permission slip to do what shouldn't even be an issue in this day and age. I can walk into a gun show and buy an assault rifle, but not an ounce of marijuana. I can go to the liquor store and buy enough booze to kill an army, but not an ounce of marijuana.
Reading that silly "medical" bill made me dizzy. There's even a rule about hiding cannabis behind a locked door. Hah! When is the last time you saw a public service announcement warning you of the dangers of leaving your prescriptions, guns, alcohol, etc. out in the open? The legislators evidently are still cursed with that "evil weed" mind set. I wonder how they unwind at the end of a long day... I don't care. It's none of my concern. So, why am I being held to THEIR standards and customs? Can you say, "fascism"? I rest my case. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 1:57pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I simply just want to be able to smoke pot out of my choice and not have the government criminanalize me for something that should be a persons choice. For shame that our governments stand on this is stuck in some post reefer madness era outlook on marijuana. Really? I mean the government is all for tobacco and having that legal should be a crime to its your choice to smoke yeah sure but they know it harms you. Whats the difference here? They are not acknowledging the flaws of marijuana criminanalization

Sun, 08/30/2009 - 5:19am Permalink
Experienced (not verified)

First of all I agree that our constitutional rights as US citizens are obliterated by the laws of this country. Not just the ones against the use of marijuana. It should be left up to the individual if they want to smoke for pleasure let alone the use as medication.
Myself I suffer from depression to the degree that I would prefer not to exist in this world. I have even tried to bring that to reality a time or two. I have taken several different "anti-depressants" in an attempt to cope with every day life. Needless to say I have yet to find anything that accomplishes that goal, with one exception. Yep, you guessed it, marijuana, cannabis. I know a lot of people may think it an "excuse", but I don't really care what they think. I know the truth, it works. I have read about people using it to control pain but that is not the only benefit.
One thing I know for certain is that smoking increases my quality of life. With out it I don't feel like continuing the struggle to survive. There is no other "mood altering drug" that works as well for me as does cannabis. Zoloft, Celexa, and other anti-depressants do not come close to actually making a depressed person feel better about the future. I know, I have tried them.
The just of it Governor Pat Quinn is, we need this medication that surpasses others with it's effectiveness, sign bill HB 2514 into law.
The ill citizens of this state demand it!

Fri, 03/26/2010 - 5:52am Permalink
Peter S. Becks (not verified)

I just wanted to say that every since i have first smoked marijuana it has help with many problems for me. I am a Bi_Polar/ other mental illness's . It keeps me to want to eat, helps with depression, joint pain just about everything. I truely hope this bill goes all the way so that us as Americans can have medical marijuana along side of the other legal states.

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 6:13pm Permalink

Being born in 1951 I have experienced this war since mid sixties. The whole thing was a joke then and it is still a joke. I have smoked pot more on than off for more than 40 yrs. In all my years of smoking I have never seen pot harm anyone or cause anybody to do anything they wouldn't have done without it. If anything I have seen it mellow people who otherwise you never knew what to expect out of them. The times I have seen people do things I didn't agree with they were heavily under the influence of the legal intoxicant alcohol,and I have never seen anyone who used enough alcohol that their total personality was not changed, usually for the worse. Yes I was concidered a hippie, proud to be refered to as such, all we wanted was to just have a good time in a time when the world was in a turmoil, much as it is today. I admit that at the age of 58 the fantasy that,s so much associated with smoking pot has passed, but it is still enjoyable. These days I live with severe pain everyday. I have had three spinal surgeries, shoulder reconstrction, crushed R. Foot. Thorasic outlet syndrome surgery. I have chronic degeneration of spinal disc. I am prescribed 5, 10mg Methadone a day, and have been taking them for at least 5 yrs. When I smoke pot it helps with the muscle spams I have in my back and legs. It helps calm my nerves, relieves anxiety for which I take 1mg of Ativan 3 times a day, when my family Dr. feels my anxiety levels are to high. On top of all that I am subject to random urine analysis to make sure I'm not smoking pot, or taking street drugs. In 8 yrs I have yet to fail one of their stupid test. It really upsets me that anyone can tell me what I can or can not put in my body. I feel like a cancer patient without an expiration date. Yet our government still continues its war on drugs which I have been a part of for 44yrs, and there are more drugs now than there ever was in the sixties. Not to mention the billions of dollars we have pissed away and the lives ruined by being incarcerated for minor drug offences. If the truth were actually known on how many people regularly use pot or even other drugs you would see the war is over and drugs won at the very start. As long as there is a demand there will be a supply, that I can say with all confidence, and there will always be a demand. Unless you are so rich or have your head stuck in the sand the condition of this world offers no peace to anyone. Except for those who love killing, or should I say war dogs. Look at the time and money being wasted on weather or not we should legalize something that grows so freely worldwide and has been used probably since the dawn of man, and will go on being cultivated and used no matter who says what. Its time for people to get out of this river that we all are floating along in before the America we all love goes over the water fall and we lose our nation and stand scratching our heads and asking how did this happen. Just like 9-11 do we really believe that these people just up and killed all those people over religion, or has our government actually done something to these people that none of us are aware of. The American people are so caught up with new gadgets that few of us have any use for or even know how to use them that we don't actually see what is going on in this world. That waterfall gets closer every day. It seems all we hear is how we need to consume more and more. So pass this goofy bill so some of us who live in hell in our own bodies can at least have a little peace and happiness before they kill us all. End this stupid war and free the weed. Please realize that anything that works for you is addictive to you, just use your judgement and moderation. Peace America from an old toker, and let God do his part.

Tue, 05/25/2010 - 6:57pm Permalink

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