Illinois

Illinois: Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (Economic Development)

Illinois Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Chicago, IL - State lawmakers continued their in-depth look at cannabis policy reform earlier this week as they heard testimony on the economic boost Illinois could expect following the end of cannabis prohibition. Travel icon Rick Steves, Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon, economist Adam Orens, and several Illinois business owners discussed the benefits and challenges Illinois could expect upon adopting a better law.

Illinois: High School Newspaper Confiscated For Cannabis Content

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last month, prohibitionist administrators at Evanston Township High School confiscated an issue of the student newspaper, declaring it glorified drug use, drug dealing and promoted illegal conduct. Last week, at the meeting of the District 202 school board, the student journalists and first amendment legal advocates argued that the school may have violated state law by failing to show justification before confiscating the paper, which included coverage on cannabis use and policy.

Illinois: Public Hearing on Cannabis Legalization Next Week in Springfield

Illinois Cannabis

Supporters are invited to hear testimony next week on public safety

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Springfield, IL - State lawmakers are holding a public hearing Wednesday, September 6th from 1pm to 5pm in Room 212 in the Illinois State Capitol on legalization in Illinois and how it relates to public safety. Those testifying in front of the Joint Hearing with House Appropriations Public Safety Committee, include current and former members of law enforcement, academic researchers, and experts from around the country. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

U.S.: Congressman Reintroduces Legislation to Give Students a Second Chance

Illinois Cannabis Arrests

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On July 14, Illinois Congressman Bill Foster (D) reintroduced legislation to change penalties students face when convicted of minor marijuana offenses. The Second Chance for Students Act would allow students convicted of an offense involving the possession of marijuana to retain financial aid eligibility for six months while they complete a drug rehabilitation program.

Under current U. S. Federal policy, students convicted of drug offenses lose eligibility for federal financial aid for a period of time.

"One mistake should not ruin a student’s future,” Representative Foster said.

Illinois: Industrial Hemp May Become State's Newest Cash Crop

Hemp Field, 2009

Illinois farmers may soon be able to add hemp to their rotation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

SB 1294, an industrial hemp bill sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, which passed unanimously in the Illinois Senate, would allow the Illinois Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp.

Illinois: Lawmakers Push To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois lawmakers say that legal recreational marijuana will be part of the state's future; it's a question of when, not if. That is the message sent this morning from lawmakers backing legislation to fully legalize and regulate cannabis, and the coalition of groups lining up to support the bills.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy and state Senator Heather Steans, both Democrats from Chicago, were joined by members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois this morning at the Thompson Center in the Loop. They gave reporters details on the General Assembly’s first hearing on Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353.

They say prohibition of marijuana has not worked and it's time to get gangs and drug cartels out of the market which creates violent crime.

Cassidy cited surveys that show that 66 percent of the Illinois population support cannabis legalization.

The lawmakers believe that adults should be allowed to possess, grow and purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana, and that legalization would create millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The lawmakers were joined by representatives of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The ACLU, NORML and other legal, medical and community groups also make up part of the coalition

Illinois: Poll Shows Majority Of Illinois Supports Legalizing Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new poll shows that a majority of Illinois voters support legalizing marijuana, following the introduction of two bills into the General Assembly proposing legalization.

The poll from the Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed that 74.4 percent of Illinois citizens are in favor of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Only 21 percent are opposed, and 4.6 percent either don't know or refused to answer the poll.

The Simon Institute said it collected data from live telephone interviews collected between March 4 and March 11.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and State Senator Heather Steans introduced identical pieces of legislation into both chambers of the General Assembly on March 22. Both lawmakers said the tax revenue from legal recreational marijuana could help with the state's budget deficit.

The bills are SB316 and HB2353.

Illinois: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana For Adults

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Identical legislation was introduced Wednesday to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults in Illinois by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis and would allow facilities to sell marijuana to adults over 21 years of age and tax those sales "in a manner similar to alcohol."

Steans said the taxes collected from marijuana sales would help solve the state budget recover.

"Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois' worsening budget problems. Every bit of new revenue will help to close the governor's $5 billion budget gap," she said.

Steans pointed out that Oregon collected more than $60 million in new tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, and Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, collected more than $140 million in 2016 from legal marijuana sales.

Steans introduced legislation last year to decriminalize possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which is now the law. Illinois began its medical marijuana program in 2013.

Illinois: Democrats Demand Trump Clarify Stance On Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Illinois state Democrat is asking the Trump administration for greater clarity on whether they will be opponents to state laws legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerich sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday criticizing the administration for teasing a crackdown on states with legal marijuana but giving no follow-up details on their plans. The Chicago Tribune reports that the legal future for medical patients and businesses involved in the marijuana industry is uncertain due to the absence of an official position on both recreational and medical marijuana.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference on February 23 that the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law.

“If the Trump administration seeks greater enforcement, then it should clearly define what this means so hard-working people in Illinois can make informed decisions,” Frerich said in the letter. “Vague statements undermining medical marijuana violate commonsense and only serve to hurt the people who have pursed this treatment as a last resort.”

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

Arizona: Maker Of Deadly Fentanyl Donates Half A Million To Defeat Pot Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Advocates of marijuana legalization have been saying for a while that pharmaceutical companies are one of the major supporters of pot prohibition. States that have legalized marijuana have seen a decrease in opioid abuse.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that fentanyl manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has donated $500,000 to foes of the Prop 205 marijuana legalization initiative.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid several dozen times more potent than heroin. It has been linked to many opioid overdose deaths across the country, especially when mixed with heroin. Marijuana has no reported overdose deaths, ever.

The only product Insys makes is Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray. In just the past month, two former company employees pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to an alleged kickback scheme to get doctors to prescribe Subsys. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against the company charging that Insys hawked the drug to doctors for off-label prescribing.

Insys' "desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients' health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes," Madigan wrote.

Insys says on its website that it is working "to develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Sales Reach New High At $2.9 Million

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois officials announced Wednesday that July retail medical marijuana sales reached a new high at $2.9 million.

Medical marijuana sales have steadily climbed since November 9, when it first became available. June was the previous highest month at $2.57 million.

There are nearly 8,891 medical marijuana patients in Illinois and 40 registered dispensaries. Total retail sales since the program launched came to $16.3 million at the end of July.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed new legislation last month adding post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions and extending the pilot program until July 2020.

Patients who are terminally ill can apply for a medical marijuana card without a fee. But new patient identification cards for other patients will cost $300 and be valid for three years. Annual fees had been $100. Veterans and those who receive disability benefits can get a three-year card for $150.

Chicago patient advocate and industry analyst Joel Erickson says the price is too high.

"Patients are seeing these numbers and are scared about how they're going to pay for access," Erickson said. "That's a car or rent payment without any help from insurance. There needs to be alternatives for low or fixed-income patients to be able to afford access."

Illinois: Judge Orders Officials To Reconsider Medical Marijuana For Migraines

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A judge has ordered health officials in Illinois to rethink their decision to leave migraine headaches off the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use in the state.

A Cook County judge ordered Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah to reconsider evidence presented to members of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board before they voted to recommend approving marijuana to treat migraines.

Shah had previously denied a petition to add migraines to the list.

A suit filed by an unidentified man currently using marijuana to treat migraines prompted the court response. Attorney Robert Bauerschmidt said the middle-aged man has suffered from migraine headaches since adolescence , and has found narcotic painkillers and triptans, the most common treatment for migraines, to be ineffective.

"He's been through everything," Bauerschmidt said. "Marijuana doesn't cure it, but he finds the pain less severe and believes the headaches are less frequent when he's using it."

Illinois law allows medical marijuana for patients who have any of about 40 specific medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis.

A different judge just last month ordered Illinois to add PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to the list of qualifying conditions.

Illinois: Judge Rules Search Illegal In St. Charles Brothers Marijuana Case

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Members of an Illinois State Police special unit found marijuana and an indoor grow operation in a St. Charles home in December 2015 after responding to an anonymous tip.

A judge has ruled, however, that the seized contraband cannot be used in the case against Derek Sutcliffe, 31, and his brother Joseph W. Sutcliffe, 27. Kane County judge Linda Abrahamson ruled Wednesday to suppress evidence in the case, because the search violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, she said.

"It was a very thorough ruling, well thought out and she followed the law," defense attorney Kathleen Colton said of the ruling by Abrahamson.

Abrahamson ruled members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, a unit of the state police, did not have permission from a woman who answered the door to go beyond the foyer at the home on of Denker Road in St. Charles.

She also ruled officers did not have cause to perform a protective sweep of the home in which they saw a backpack of marijuana in a closet and later used that information to get the warrant.

Illinois: Judge Orders State To Authorize Medical Marijuana For PTSD

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Cook County judge ruled Tuesday that Illinois must add post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

The ruling may be rendered moot, as legislation is pending that would do the same thing. Gov. Bruce Rauner's office had indicated he will sign it, after previously blocking expansion of the program.

There are pending lawsuits seeking to add seven other conditions to the list, including cases involving chronic pain and osteoarthritis that are before the same judge.

In his opinion, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen criticized Illinois Department of Health Director Nirav Shah for failing to follow the recommendations of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The judge gave the state 30 days to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions, and scheduled a follow-up hearing to ensure compliance.

The case was filed by Daniel Paul Jabs, a military veteran with PTSD.

Attorney Michael Goldberg, who handled the case, said he hoped the other conditions would be added on the same basis.

"This judge… stepped in to protect (Jabs') health, safety and welfare," Goldberg said, "The judiciary seems to be sending a message to the executive branch."

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Director Resigns After 1 Year

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An attorney appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to lead the Illinois medical marijuana program last year has resigned to pursue work in the private sector.

Joseph Wright, 32, was in the position just over one year. He told the Associated Press on Monday that he felt the time was right to explore other opportunities, perhaps in the medical marijuana industry.

Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for the governor, conformed the resignation on Monday. She told the AP the governor's office "will have no further comment" on the reasons for the resignation.

Wright was paid $53,370 last year according to a public database of state employee's salaries. His resignation was turned in on Friday. He will be replaced by Jack Campbell, the program's bureau chief in the Department of Agriculture, Kelly said.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Applaud Rauner's About-face

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are happy that Gov. Bruce Rauner has changed his mind about expanding the Illinois pilot program, saying it will help more patients who are suffering.

Democratic state Rep. Lou Lana announced an agreement Friday with the Republican governor to extend Illinois' four-year pilot program to 2020. It was originally set to end in 2018, but supporters argued more time was needed because medical marijuana sales just started in November 2015.

The agreement adds post traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions. Rauner had previously rejected recommendations to add conditions.

Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple is chairwoman of Illinois' Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. She says she's "thrilled" more patients will benefit.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Advocates Cheer Governor's About-Face On Expanding Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates are applauding Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's about-face on expanding the state's medicinal cannabis pilot program, saying it will allow time to show the program is working and help more suffering patients.

Democratic Rep. Lou Lang on Friday announced an agreement with the Republican governor to extend the state's four-year medical marijuana pilot program to 2020, reports the Associated Press.

The program had been set to expire in 2018, but advocates said more time is needed because medicinal cannabis sales only began in November 2015.

The agreement, which still must be approved by the Illinois Legislature, adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminal illness to the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

Governor Rauner had previously balked at adding any conditions, despite recommendations from the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Chairwoman Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple of the board said she's "thrilled" that more patients will now benefit from the program.

Photo of Gov. Bruce Rauner: Chicago Now

Illinois: Governor Likely To OK Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said Thursday he would "probably be comfortable with" a proposed bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The bill was approved by the Illinois House on Wednesday in a 64-50 vote. It was passed by the Senate in April with a 40-14 vote. The bill would ensure that no one in Illinois could be criminally charged for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana.

Gov. Rauner vetoed a bill last year to make possession of up to 15 grams of weed a ticketable offense. He said the bill would allow people to carry too much pot and that fines should be more than $55 to $125.

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, sponsored the new Senate version of the bill which would allow people caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less to face slightly larger fines of $100 to $200.

Tickets would be expunged automatically twice a year.

Possession of up to 2.5 grams is considered a class C misdemeanor under current law, and can be punished by up to 30 days in jail and a possible $1,500 fine. Possession of more than 2.5 grams is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

Illinois would become the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana possession if Rauner signs the bill.

Illinois: House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Illinois House voted today, May 18, to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a ticket-based penalty rather than a misdemeanor.

Previously, anyone caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less could have faced a fine up to $1,500 and a possible six month stay in jail. If the governor signs Senate Bill 2228, police will start issuing tickets ranging from $100 to $200 per offense instead of arresting offenders.

Moving simple marijuana possession to a civil penalty from a criminal penalty will help achieve Go. Bruce Rauner's goal of reducing the state's prison population by 25 percent by 2025.

Another positive outcome is that a civil penalty for possession will not burden people with a debilitating criminal record, which can prevent a person from getting a job, applying for student loans, or finding a place to live.

The change will also save the state money. Jailing people for low-level possession offenses is expensive, costing Illinois $38,000 a year per prisoner. Illinois prisons are currently operating at 150 percent capacity.

Reforming the way simple marijuana possession is punished will allow police to focus on serious crime, while ensuring that people caught with small amounts of pot don't get ensnared in a costly and ineffective system.

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