Concerns Rise Over Legalizing MMJ in Illinois
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Concerns Rise Over Legalizing MMJ in Illinois
Posted by CN Staff on May 05, 2010 at 12:53:47 PT
By Jack Vebber,  News Staff Writer 
Source: Daily Illini
Illinois -- While lobbying at the Illinois State Capitol on Monday, supporters of legislation that would legalize the medical use of cannabis in Illinois said they hoped it would be voted on before the week’s end.Dan Linn, executive director for the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association, was in Springfield on Monday to begin a weeklong effort to gain state legislators’ support for the bill.
Although he was uncertain, Linn – who has been advocating for the legalization of medical cannabis for seven years – said he hoped the House would vote on the bill this week, and was “cautiously optimistic” about the bill’s passage.The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, as the bill is titled, has been in the Illinois House since May 27 of last year after barely passing through the Senate with a 30 to 28 vote. Almost one year later, the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, D-16, said he is close to having a majority but does not yet want to put it up for vote in order to prevent the bill from failing.“I believe I’m a couple of votes short, and I don’t intend to call it for a vote until I think I have those votes,” he said.The bill would protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis, as well as their physicians and primary caregivers, from being arrested or charged with a crime if the patient is using cannabis for medical purposes and is registered with the Illinois Department of Health.Julie Falco, 45, who uses cannabis for medical purposes, was at the capitol on Monday with Linn.After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago, Falco said using cannabis allows her to regulate the symptoms caused by her condition and to avoid the negative side effects caused by pharmaceuticals.Falco said she would like to see Illinois legislators follow the example of Michigan’s residents, over 62 percent of whom voted in favor of a referendum on the 2008 general election ballot that legalized medical cannabis in the state, according to the Michigan Department of State’s website.“I’m wishing for that to happen in Illinois,” she said. “Because there are many more like me that are in need of cannabinoid medicine to help give them a better quality of life.”George Basar, Police Chief of Howell, Mich. and current legislative chair of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said the Michigan law contains some gray areas, which he partially attributed to the law being voted on by referendum rather than a bill in the state’s legislature.Basar said he thinks people should be able to avoid pain and suffering. However, from a law enforcement perspective, he said it should be regulated like other prescription medications and not be up to the patients and caregivers.“If I go to the doctor, and the doctor prescribes Vicodin for me, I don’t get to go home and manufacture as much Vicodin as I may want to use,” he said. “Well, with the medical marijuana law, if you get an authorization you have the right to go home and smoke up as much as you want.”Along with Michigan, 13 other states have enacted laws that legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.“This is not a bill about drugs. It’s about health care,” Rep. Lang said. “It’s a bill about compassion, and pain and suffering.”Because the bill calls for a pilot program, it will become invalid in three years if it passes. Lang said if the program is successful, they will try to renew it at that time.Source: Daily Illini, The (IL Edu)Author: Jack Vebber,  News Staff Writer Published: May 3, 2010Copyright: 2010 Illini Media CoContact: opinions dailyillini.comWebsite: http://www.dailyillini.comURL: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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