Illinois: Lieutenant Governor Supports Medical Marijuana Bill
By Steve Elliott
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.
A 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.
Predictably, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association both oppose the measure, claiming there's no sure way to figure out if drivers are under the influence of marijuana (of course, that would be due to the simple fact most of them are completely unimpaired).
"It does a good job of getting medical marijuana to people who need and keeping it away from those who don't," Lt. Gov. Simon said.
Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Chicago) hasn't committed to whether or not he'll sign the bill, saying instead that he is "open-minded" to the idea.