Pubdate: Fri, 6 May 2011
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2011 Belleville News-Democrat
Author: Brian Brueggemann, News-Democrat
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Illinois)


The Illinois House on Thursday narrowly turned down a measure that 
would have allowed the medical use of marijuana.

The measure, House Bill 30, known as the Compassionate Use of Medical 
Cannabis Act, failed in a 53-61 vote, with four members voting "present."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said the measure would 
have allowed patients with prescriptions to get marijuana from one of 
59 state-approved, nonprofit dispensaries, whose owners and workers 
would have to pass criminal background checks.

It would have allowed medical use of marijuana under a three-year 
pilot program. For medical use of marijuana to continue after that 
time, the legislature would have had to approve it again.

There was no official record of how individual representatives voted. 
That's because Lang, after the vote, requested that consideration of 
the bill be postponed, meaning it could be brought up for a vote 
again. That's a common parliamentary move made by representatives 
when their bills are voted down, but there is no guarantee it will be 
brought up again.

Lang said medical use of marijuana would help patients like Illinois 
resident Jim Champion, an Army veteran who has multiple sclerosis. 
Lang said Champion takes a few puffs, "and his hands open up, and his 
legs uncross."

Lang added, "Every one of us has people in our district who need this product."

Opponents noted that marijuana would remain illegal under federal 
law. Lang argued the U.S. Department of Justice has stated it will 
not pursue cases involving medical use of marijuana where state law allows it.

Opponents also argued that medical use of marijuana would lead to the 
outright legalization of marijuana, and that the state doesn't 
currently have the resources to govern a medical marijuana program.

The law would have allowed patients to buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana in 
a 14-day period.

Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Freeport, held up a bag of what he said was 2.5 
ounces of a lookalike material. He said the 2.5-ounce limit would 
allow users to smoke "10 to 13 joints a day."

Rep. Tom Cross, R-Plainfield, urged members to look at the list of 
diseases which would make a patient eligible to use marijuana. They 
included cancer, AIDS, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, 
lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's.

Cross said the diseases on the list "are about as bad as they get," 
and people who have them would not be inclined to abuse drugs.

Lang asked members to have courage to vote for the bill. He said some 
members had told him they personally supported it, but feared the 
political fallout.

The state Chamber of Commerce had voiced concern that workers who use 
marijuana would be able to claim they tested positive for marijuana 
because a friend or relative had used medical marijuana.  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake