Illinois: Medical Marijuana Moves Forward In Legislature
By Steve Elliott
A bill to allow Illinois residents to use medical marijuana in the treatment of their debilitating medical conditions moved one step closer to becoming law on Wednesday when it was approved 11-4 by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now heads to the full 118-member House of Representatives.
House Bill 1, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), a friend to medical marijuana patients for years, would allow people suffering from specific medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS to use medicinal cannabis if their doctors recommend it.
Qualified patients would be able to get marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries, which would acquire the cannabis from up to 22 cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation would control the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana.
A poll released last month shows an overwhelming majority of Illinois voters support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. According to the poll, conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, 40 percent of respondents said they strongly favored legal medical marijuana, while another 23 percent simply said they favored it. On the other side, 25.3 percent of respondents strongly opposed medical marijuana.
"Seriously ill people who receive significant relief from their use of marijuana should not be treated like criminals," said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "If their doctors believe treating their conditions with medical marijuana will improve the quality of their lives, they should not have to risk being arrested and prosecuted.
"Marijuana is more effective, less addictive, and poses fewer and less severe side effects than many of the narcotics they are currently being prescribed," Riffle said. "Patients with serious illnesses should be allowed to make personal medical decisions based on the advice of their physicians, without interference by law enforcement or government officials who lack medical training and expertise."