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Illinois: House of Representatives to Send Marijuana Measure to Senate

Illinois: House of Representatives to Send Marijuana Measure to Senate

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 04/19/2013 in Marijuana Politics

On Wednesday, the Illinois House of Representatives decided to vote in favor of a measure that would legalize marijuana for medical use. The beginning of this monumental vote is a potential breakthrough for supports, and followed an emotional debate that included state legislators’ sharing heartfelt stories of friends and relatives who seek relief from overwhelming, pain, sickness and suffering.

In a close-margined vote, a 61-57 favoring of a four-year pilot program, supporters cheered the House of Representatives decision to let the measure go to the next level. Supports have long said that the Illinois House of Representatives was the highest hurdle that legalization faced. The Senate previously passed similar legislation and Governor Patrick Quinn said on Wednesday that he was very “open-minded” about the proposal. If passed, Illinois would become the nineteenth state to legalize medical marijuana, but that has proponents saying it would be the most restrictive program in the country and would only abide by guidelines with conditions on qualifying illnesses, written physician approval and production of the drug.

Representative Lou Lang, a Democrat out of Skokie and the measure’s chief sponsor, said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not about getting high, it’s not about dope, it’s not about what our mothers told us when we went to college. This is about providing a product at no expense to the taxpayers to provide better health care to people who desperately need this product.” Lang is right in saying that this is about the patients, and this should not become a political manner based upon other’s beliefs and morals. Even national polls have suggested that more and more Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with marijuana for medicinal use. However, opponents of the measure pointed out that many in law enforcement and clinical medicine, as well as our own federal government, is not on board for lending their support. Lang implored fence-sitting lawmakers to stop forcing sick people who need to be provided with relief, into a back alley somewhere to get the marijuana that greatly helps them. He referred to this as “turning Granny into a criminal.”

However, the most persuasive arguments had to have been those from state legislators who have related personal stories. Take for instance Representative JoAnn Osmond, a Republican out of Antioch. Osmond told colleagues she opposed the measure in the past but changed her mind because of a friend who was very ill. Osmond’s friend’s wife had spent time at Osmond’s house while her husband battled his chronic pain tied to complications of cancer. Nearly two years after her friend’s husband’s death, Osmond looks back on her decision not to let him use marijuana in her home. She wonders about her decision because he was in a daze from a painkiller prescription that made him “extremely sick, very sick” as Osmond put it.

Then there was Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy, who told her colleagues the story of her brother-in-law who suffers from terminal cancer and “would not be with us if not for making use of cannabis.” Cassidy said the prescription opiate painkillers he was prescribed were literally sucking the life out of him, but now, Cassidy’s sister and her husband can peacefully enjoy what was deemed “his last days.” Cassidy said, “My sister and my brother-in-law, who I love dearly, are able to make the best of an absolutely horrific situation as a result of this product.”

The heartfelt stories of state lawmakers can be felt throughout the chamber, and with many soggy eyes, change is absolutely necessary. Under this proposed measure, an individual can be recommended no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over a period of two weeks. The physician who recommends medical marijuana must have had a prior and ongoing bona fide relationship with that patient. Patients would be required to buy the marijuana from one of sixty medical marijuana dispensaries that would be setup throughout the state, rather than be allowed to cultivate their own medicine. Those who dispense the medicine, would undergo criminal background checks and the dispensaries itself would be under around-the-clock camera surveillance to ensure no under the table services. Patients would carry their state-issued medical marijuana identification cards in order to indicate how much they had purchased in order to prevent any event of stockpiling.

A previous version of this measure had allowed patients to be able to cultivate their own medicine; however that provision was removed in order to make the language of the measure more restrictive. The measure also says a person who uses medical marijuana would be required to take a field sobriety test if law enforcement pulled over their car. Refusal of a field sobriety test would lead to a one-year driver’s license suspension and revocation of their medical marijuana privilege.

 

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