Illinois is poised to join the ranks of states with medical cannabis programs. The Illinois Senate voted 35-21 on Friday to pass a bill prescribing marijuana as medicine. The bill will now go to the desk of Governor Pat Quinn, who has not yet indicated whether he will sign it.
Conditions including multiple sclerosis, cancer, and HIV infection will be treatable with marijuana if the bill becomes law. A four-year trial program will be implemented along with a network of licensed dispensaries, as well as background checks, fingerprinting, and dosage limits of no more than 2.5 ounces of medical pot every two weeks. There are no provisions included for patients to grow their own medicine.
The Chicago Tribune quoted Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) as saying, “This bill is filled with walls to keep this limited,” urging lawmakers to pass the compassionate care legislation.
Opposing the measure, Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) said there should be more concern for parents “who will never be relieved from the pain of losing a child due to addiction which in many cases started with [this] very illegal, FDA-unapproved addiction-forming drug.”
The measure also drew strong opposition from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association, which sent a letter to Gov. Quinn warning of the dangers of driving under the influence of medical pot.
The opposition is fighting the turning tide. Let’s hope Gov. Quinn acknowledges prevailing public opinion and makes medical marijuana a reality for Illinois patients in need.