A plan to legalize medical marijuana went down in smoke Tuesday in the Illinois House.
The legislation would have let Illinois residents with certain ailments such as cancer, glaucoma or Alzheimer’s disease get a prescription from a doctor to possess marijuana plants.
But opponents decried the plan as one that would encourage marijuana use by people who really didn’t need it.
State Rep. Sandy Cole, a Grayslake Republican, said the proposal didn’t focus enough on diseases.
“It doesn’t talk about disease management,” she said. “It talks about how much dope you can have.”
The effort even drew former daytime talk-show host Montel Williams to the Capitol. Williams has multiple sclerosis and is a vocal supporter of the idea that marijuana can help ease some patients’ pain.
“This is a discussion that should take place between a doctor and a patient,” Williams said.
The legislation got as many as 56 votes of the 60 it needed for approval before vote totals were cleared.
Dan Linn, a Lake County native and executive director of the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association, noted the nonprofit has been working on the issue for the past decade.
“Even if it does pass, it’ll be bittersweet,” he said.
The Patients Association is focused on legally protecting medical marijuana patients in the state and educating lawmakers and the general public about the issue.
Linn first became involved with the cause after serving as a personal assistant and caregiver for a quadriplegic friend.
His friend, Linn said, was prescribed the maximum dosage of medication to help cope with muscle spasms, but was still in pain. “He found that cannabis would help calm down the spasms.”
Linn described the group’s lobbying efforts as “emotionally difficult to see how much politics is involved. You have lawmakers who might personally support the issue but not publicly support it because the political timing isn’t right. It’s disappointing.”
He believes there is a “lot of misinformation out there” surrounding the legislation, which would establish a pilot program of patients who are diagnosed with “debilitating medical conditions” to use a limited amount of cannabis plants.
“Details are significantly different from (laws) in California and Colorado, and yet they’ll say our program is going to be more widely abused.”
Though the legislation was defeated, it could come up for future votes if supporters find several more lawmakers to vote “yes.”
– Article from the Daily Herald.
Medical marijuana bill stalls in the Illinois House
UPDATE 1:20 p.m. — Montel Williams, the former talk-show host, just did a standup with reporters in the Capitol to chide opponents of the bill for spreading “false information.”
Williams was diagnosed 10 years ago with multiple sclerosis, and he has since become a traveling advocate for legalizing medical marijuana, which he says alleviates his pain and tremors from the condition. He lives in New York, where medical marijuana isn’t legal, either. (Where he gets and uses it there “is my business,” he said, when reporters asked.)
Williams was in Springfield to lobby lawmakers for passage of the bill, and was clearly disappointed at its failure. He attributed it to “a misinformation campaign steeped in flagrant lies” on the issue, including (he said) the assertion that it’s a “gateway drug” to harder drugs. He noted it’s not dead yet, and said he held out hope that Lang would be able to round up the 60 votes he needs in the few days the current Legislature has left.
UPDATE 12:40 p.m. — The bill just failed on a 53-59-1 vote (60 was needed for passage). The sponsor, state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, has put the bill on postponed consideration, which effectively pulled it back before the vote was official and allows him to try again later if he can come up with extra votes.
Lang closed with an impassioned, shouting floor speech that was cheered by medical patients who had crowded into the House gallery overhead.
The House will meet tomorrow for the last time this year, then for a few days in January before the new General Assembly is seated. If the bill doesn’t pass by then, Lang would have to start from scratch.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois House members right now are debating a long-awaited medical marijuana bill that supporters believe has a realistic chance of passage.
The bill (SB1381) would allow people under treatment for cancer, AIDS and other illnesses to utilize marijuana for pain and nausea alleviation, with a doctor’s permission and state certification.
Supporters say the measure is merely about alleviating suffering among patients, who would be allowed to smoke or ingest marijuana only in their homes.
“People . . . are looking for relief, not a cheap high,” said state Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago. “ . . . We have the ability (to let people) find relief from pain.”
Critics say it opens the door to legalizing recreational pot.
“We’re sending the wrong message to our children,” said state Rep. David Reis, R-Olney. “This has been illegal for a reason.”
The bill wouldn’t let doctors dispense marijuana but rather would allow patients to grow it themselves. It would allow patients to possess up to six cannabis plants within a 60-day period, three of which can be mature plants. The patients would have to obtain the plants from a state-sanctioned supplier. The bill would go into effect July 1.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this year, so House passage would send it to the governor.
– Article from STLtoday.