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Illinois: Marijuana Decrim Bill Advocates To Release Poll Showing Strong Support


Group Will Also Release New Report Detailing Collateral Consequences of Being Arrested for Marijuana in Illinois

Central Illinois man who was denied public housing assistance 13 years after being arrested for possessing 2.5 grams of marijuana will join Illinois religious leader and others at a news conference Thursday at 11 a.m. CT in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois will on Thursday release the results of a statewide poll that show strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, will also be released. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University. For details, visit

Illinois: Senate Committee Approves Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana For Children


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois is considering expanding its medical marijuana law to include children suffering from conditions like epilepsy. The Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would legalize such treatment for minors in a 8-0 vote.

"Letters have been sent by so many parents who suffer watching their children have seizures -- and not just one or two seizures: 100, 200, 1,000 seizures a week," said bill sponsor Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), reports Elise Dismer at the Chicago Sun-Times. "This could be a life-saving solution for children suffering from epilepsy."

Nicole Gross said her 8-year-old son, Chase, lost his ability to speak due to his seizures. "Following his dose of the cannabis oil, we started to see one to two seizures in two minutes, and then two minutes seizure free, five minutes seizure free, then eight ... and when we hit 20, I cried," Gross said, reports Craig Wall at Fox Chicago.

"As a mom, too, it's fun to see his personality, we're seeing more of his personality, we're seeing more of a sense of humor, he wants to tease and play, he likes to make jokes, he likes to hide things from us now and run away, and he knows what he's doing and he thinks it's funny," Nicole said. "And before, we did not really see that."

Illinois: Chicago Medical Marijuana Authorization Clinic Flooded With Calls


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chicago medical marijuana authorization clinic Good Intentions has been deluged with phone calls -- 20,000 calls in just two months. Open since August 7, they immediately found that Illinois residents are more than ready for medicinal cannabis, according to president Tammy Jacobi.

Governor Pat Quinn last summer signed a bill allowing people with one of 42 qualifying conditions (including HIV, AIDS, cancer and other diseases) to legally possess and use marijuana starting in January, reports CBS Chicago.

Jacobi, who said she's run a similar clinic in Michigan for a couple of years, said people have been waiting a very long time safe access to medical marijuana. But patients will have to exercise, well, patience; they won't be able to get their state-issued medical marijuana cards for a bit longer.

"We have to follow the rules, and as much as we'd like to move this program along as quickly as we can to help some of these patients who are going to pass away before it takes effect," Jacobi said.

Good Intentions isn't a marijuana dispensary; it will sell no cannabis, but doctors there will provide medical marijuana authorizations for a fee of $99 to patients with qualifying conditions.

Illinois: Widow Who Pushed For Medical Marijuana Not Allowed To Use It Under New Law


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michelle DiGiacomo of Chicago won't be allowed to use medical marijuana under the new law in Illinois -- because she used medical marijuana before the law passed.

When police stormed DiGiacomo's North Side Chicago apartment last year, she had known the day could come, since marijuana was still illegal in Illinois even for medical reasons. But she was still unprepared.

"I was about to experience the worst 28 hours of my life," said DiGiacomo, 53, who runs Direct Effect Charities, which serves needy Chicago Public Schools kids, reports Maudlyne Ihejirika at the Chicago Sun-Times. "We had discussed this possibility in the past; one I had hoped would never come to be."

The widowed mother had used marijuana for the past five years to control the pain of fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis and rotator cuff disease. Pharmaceuticals had resulted in adverse reactions, or had failed to provide relief.

After he September 13, 2012 arrest, she pleaded guilty on March 5 to Class 4 felony possession of marijuana, just five months before Gov. Pat Quinn signed the state's medical marijuana bill into law.

Now she's not allowed to take part in the program, because under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, a felony conviction disqualifies her from accessing medical marijuana. Advocates say the story highlights the new law's shortcomings.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Industry Experts Hosting Chicago Educational Event


Professionals from around the nation featured at day-long event to educate investors and entrepreneurs in Illinois’ emerging medical industry

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will host the Midwest CannaBusiness Symposium on August 24 in Chicago to prepare investors and entrepreneurs for Illinois’ emerging medical cannabis industry.

Earlier this month, Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 1 and created a framework for the licensure of as many as 22 cultivation facilities and 60 dispensing organizations to provide medical marijuana to qualifying patients.

The symposium will bring cannabis business professionals from around the country to provide insight to Illinois’ prospective medical marijuana investors and entrepreneurs, setting the stage for a responsible, sustainable, and effective medical marijuana industry.

The day-long educational program will present investors and entrepreneurs interested in Illinois’ medical cannabis market with a unique opportunity to glean information from cannabis business professionals and experts in the fields of regulatory models, operations and ancillary businesses and features individual and panel presentations, question and answer periods, and an evening networking reception.

“Illinois joins 15 other states in not only allowing the choice of medical cannabis for those patients who need it, but also ensuring it is provided in the safest, most accountable manner possible: from licensed, taxed, and regulated businesses,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Illinois: First Medical Marijuana Clinic Opens - It's Not A Dispensary


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Less than a week after Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law House Bill 1, a measure legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois, he first medical marijuana clinic in the state has opened in the Chicago area. But the Good Intentions LLC, in Wicker Park, isn't a dispensary; patients can't actually get medical marijuana there.

The clinic, owned by former registered nurse Tammy Jacobi, who ran a similar clinic in Saugatuck, Michigan, opened for the purpose of providing medical marijuana authorizations from physicians for patients who need them, reports Pauli Mayfield at WQAD.

Good Intentions accepted its first patients at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, reports The Huffington Post. By mid-morning, more than 30 patients had already visited, reports DNAinfo Chicago.

Patients paid a nonrefundable $99 registration fee by cash or check only; Good Intentions does not accept insurance. A doctor will review applications and call applicants back within six to eight weeks, according to Good Intentions spokesman Daniel Reid, reports Alisa Hauser at DNAinfo Chicago.

Illinois: Implementing New Medical Marijuana Law Will Take Time


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois on August 1 became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana when Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 1. But the measure -- with some of the strictest rules in the nation -- will take months to set into motion because of complex rules and regulations.

Estimates are that medical marijuana won't be available for purchase in Illinois for from several months to a year after the law takes effect on January 1, 2014, reports Sophia Tareen at The Associated Press.

Three separate state agencies -- the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation -- will be required to draft sets of rules for patients, growers and dispensaries. The rules must then be approved by a committee from the Legislature.

After that, permits will be issued, and 22 "cultivation centers" will be set up in each Illinois State Police district; state officials will review security plans. The cannabis will be sold in up to 60 dispensaries.

Only patients who have serious illnesses and have a long-term relationship with a doctor will be able to apply for an Illinois medical marijuana card. The new law lists dozens of qualifying illnesses, including lupus, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis. Patients will be allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks; no one under 18 will be eligible.

Illinois: Midwest Cannabusiness Symposium Scheduled For Aug. 24


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), a trade association representing state-legal cannabis businesses, will host the Midwest CannaBusiness Symposium on August 24 in Chicago. The Symposium will bring cannabis business professionals from around the country to provide insight to Illinois’ prospective medical marijuana investors and entrepreneurs, setting the stage for a responsible, sustainable, and effective medical marijuana industry.

NCIA is celebrating Illinois' advancement in medical marijuana policy with the upcoming symposium, featuring bill sponsor Illinois Rep. Lou Lang, Harborside Health Center's Steve DeAngelo, and 15 leaders in marijuana business with decades of combined experience.

Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday signed Illinois House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, making Illinois the 20th state with a medical marijuana program and the 15th to allow regulated, state-legal medical marijuana providers.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Lou Lang (D – Skokie), creates a framework for the licensure of as many as 22 cultivation facilities and 60 dispensing organizations to provide medical marijuana to qualifying patients. Extensive security, license qualification, inventory, and auditing requirements will ensure that medical cannabis produced and sold within the regulated market will be closely controlled and the individuals responsible for it will be held to high standards.

Illinois: Governor's Decision Looming On Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seriously ill patients in Illinois might be able to use medical marijuana in less than two weeks, if the hopes of supporters come true and Governor Pat Quinn signs a bill legalizing cannabis for medicinal use.

Improving the lives of the chronically ill is how supporters convinced Illinois lawmakers to approve medical marijuana, reports Dorothy Tucker at CBS 2.

Multiple sclerosis patient Julie Falco said she was "ready to commit suicide" to escape the debilitating effects of her illness, until she discovered cookies made with marijuana.

"Not only did it help with my muscle spasticity, leg spasticity, my numbness and tingling, the pain... it saved my life," Falco said.

But unsurprisingly, opponents -- like Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel -- have objections, including concerns about patients who drive.

"Their reactions are slow," Chief Weitzel claimed. "It could either just cause erratic driving or in some cases they may be involved in auto accidents."

The science doesn't back up Weitzel's claims. A study looking at 16 states where medical marijuana is legal found traffic deaths dropped an average of nine percent. Researchers also looked at the impact on teenage pot use, and found that 11 states saw fewer teens smoking marijuana after legalizing medical cannabis.

U.S.: Drug Czar Claims Marijuana Is Drug Most Often Linked To Crime


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sure, he's required by law to oppose marijuana legalization. And of course, being put in such an untenable and nonsensical position requires one to lie one's ass off on a regular basis. But still didn't make it sound one whit less ridiculous when Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on Thursday claimed that marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime in the United States.

Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), dismissed calls for cannabis legalization as a "bumper-sticker approach" that should be avoided, reports Rob Hotakainen at the McClatchy Washington Bureau. He claimed a study by his office -- which, again, is required by law to oppose pot legalization -- showed a "strong link" between marijuana use and crime.

Eighty percent of the adult males arrested in Sacramento, California last year tested positive for at least one illegal drug, Kerlikowske said. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug, found in 54 percent of those arrested.

There were reportedly similar results in New York, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago. The study included examinations of 1,736 urine samples and 1,938 interviews with men who were arrested.

Illinois: Lieutenant Governor Supports Medical Marijuana Bill

(Graphic: The Daily Chronic)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon on Sunday said she supports a bill allowing the medicinal use of cannabis, explaining that testimony from seriously ill veterans and other medical marijuana patients helped to change her mind.

"As a former prosecutor my first reaction was, 'I'm not interested in changing our laws on medical marijuana,' " Lt. Gov. Simon told The Associated Press in a Sunday interview.

But after hearing from patients and reading up on the bill -- described as the strictest in the nation among medical marijuana states -- Simon said she is convinced the regulations are stringent enough.

The bill, which has cleared the Illinois House and awaits a Senate vote, would let physicians authorize patients with whom they have "an existing relationship" to use medicinal marijuana for more than 30 medical conditions, including cancer.

(Photo: pilot program would be created; patients and caregivers would be required to undergo background checks and would be limited to 2.5 ounces per patient per purchase from state-regulated dispensaries.

Illinois: Nearly 250 Physicians Across State Endorse Medical Marijuana

Photo - Illinois: Medical Marijuana Moves Forward In LegislatureBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of doctors on Tuesday at a news conference announced the support of nearly 250 Illinois physicians for allowing patients with serious illnesses to get and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

"For many patients, the treatment can sometimes be worse than the disease," said Dr. Margaret Millar of Moline, one of the endorsing physicians. "Having seen the devastating, and all-too-often lethal tollthat legally prescribed narcotics can take, I support medical marijuana as a safer, milder treatment that carries no risk of fatal overdose."

The doctors specifically signed on the following statement:

"Licensed medical practitioners should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people, and seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if their medical professionals have told them that such use is likely to be beneficial."

The Illinois House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on House Bill 1, which would make Illinois the 19th state the allow patients with certain conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians.

It would also establish a network of state-regulated cultivation centers and dispensaries to provide marijuana to qualified patients.

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