Make Medical Marijuana Legal, But Be Cautious
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Make Medical Marijuana Legal, But Be Cautious
Posted by CN Staff on June 19, 2010 at 04:25:41 PT
Source: State Journal-Register
Illinois -- Debate over whether Illinois should join the 14 states that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has become a fairly regular feature of Illinois General Assembly legislative sessions in recent years.This year was no exception. Senate Bill 1381, which would establish a medical marijuana system in Illinois and passed the Senate a year ago, languished in the House, where it remains in the Rules Committee. Its sponsors feared it might not pass if called for a vote, in no small part because some members were reluctant to endorse a potentially controversial bill in an election year.
“What I have to overcome is the basic political calculation that many of my colleagues take,” said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie and a House sponsor. “Ultimately, this is a health-care bill. It’s not a bill about drugs. I’m here for people’s health care and pain. We should do this controlled piece of legislation ... to help people.”We agree with Lang. It’s time for Illinois to acknowledge what some other states and many sufferers of chronic diseases already have recognized. First, that marijuana — for reasons science has not yet been able to pinpoint — often is effective in easing symptoms where established pharmaceuticals are not. And second, that a carefully designed and closely monitored system for prescribing and dispensing marijuana will prevent the program from becoming a virtual legalizing of recreational marijuana.That, of course, is what has happened in California. The state legalized medical marijuana in 1996, but the lax system to administer it left it open for easy abuse. The California example has hindered advocates’ efforts to enact worthy programs in other states, which is unfortunate.SB 1381 has specific rules for diseases and conditions that would merit marijuana use and would require a physician’s statement for patients who want to receive medical marijuana. The state would issue cards to qualified patients. The bill calls for a three-year pilot program, thus ensuring a review after a reasonable trial period.There's another, broader reason we believe lawmakers should pass this bill. Despite overwhelming anecdotal evidence from chronic disease sufferers of its effectiveness in easing nausea and pain, marijuana still suffers from its classification as an illegal drug by the federal government. That classification has thwarted research that might help scientists better understand why marijuana works for some symptoms.As more states recognize the medicinal value of marijuana, we would hope the federal government would alter its designation and encourage more research. Opponents of medical marijuana are correct on two points: smoking is an unhealthy means of delivering any medicine, and the questions of dosage and potency in smoking marijuana run counter to the most basic pharmaceutical rules. Step up research and maybe more precise and acceptable methods will be found.For now, though, we believe the humane approach is to provide access to relief to those who may benefit from it. Many chronic sufferers already are obtaining marijuana on the black market.Lang says he may try to get his bill through the House after the November election and before a new General Assembly is seated in January. That would remove the election fear factor and give lawmakers a chance to vote sensibly on a sensible bill that could bring relief to many Illinoisans. Source: State Journal-Register (IL)Published: June 18, 2010Copyright: 2010 The State Journal-RegisterContact: letters sj-r.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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