Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jun 2010
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Copyright: 2010 James E. Gierach
Author: James E. Gierach


In their June 2 column, Dora Dixie and Peter Bensinger,  two persons
who earn their living tending to the drug  disaster caused by
zero-tolerance prohibition and its  multifaceted dire consequences -
including death,  disease, overdose, drug contamination, addiction,
gang  proliferation and rampant crime - repeat a number of  misleading
predictions should Illinois become the 15th  state to stop arresting
seriously ill patients who use  marijuana with their doctors'

First, they claim medical marijuana states have the  highest rates of
teen marijuana use, implying that  somehow medical marijuana laws lead
to more teen use.

In fact, the data suggest that medical marijuana laws  are actually
associated with decreases in teen use. In  all 11 of the states with
before-and-after data, teen  use rates have fallen after medical
marijuana laws were  passed.

The authors also expressed concern about quality  control of medical
marijuana, even though a number of  labs now test medical marijuana in
Colorado and  Montana.

Unlike California, Illinois' proposed law would require  dispensaries
to grow their own marijuana according to  state Department of Health

The authors expressed concern about fictitious harms to  employers who
would not be allowed to fire seriously  ill patients who are not
impaired at work, even though  employers currently cannot fire people
just for testing  positive for prescription Vicodin when they are
allowed  to use it.

There is no rational reason for medical marijuana  patients who are
not impaired to be treated any  differently.

SB 1381 is endorsed by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago,  the state
chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,  and the Illinois Nurses

The bill cautiously creates only a three-year pilot  program and
provides strict penalty enhancements in the  event of diversion. It
provides for state oversight and  regulation. Legislators should look
at the facts and  into their hearts, and then vote to pass this
compassionate and narrowly tailored bill.

James E. Gierach

Palos Park
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