Pubdate: Wed, 15 May 2013
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Author: Alexander E. Sharp
Note: The Rev. Alexander E. Sharp is acting executive director of The 
Community Renewal Society.


The Sun-Times editorial of May 13 calling for the Illinois Senate to 
legalize medical marijuana gets it just right. HB 1 will help people 
suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, HIV, 
spinal disease, ALS and other terrible ailments. These people should 
not be dismissed as "anecdotes."

The Sun-Times Editorial Board is also right to hope that, once 
legislators see this law functioning well and providing relief, it 
can be amended to make the pilot program permanent and open to 
individuals in debilitating pain whose doctors recommend it.

Resistance to the bill comes predominantly from law enforcement 
groups and other individuals who have spent all or part of their 
careers on the enforcement side of the drug war. Police officers 
don't want to adjust to a new law even though they will have the same 
powers of enforcement that they do regarding the far more dangerous 
prescription drugs of OxyContin and Vicodin.

Law enforcement officers are well-trained in recognizing the signs of 
impaired driving. The bill gives them every tool they need and then 
some to identify, arrest, and prosecute anyone who drives under the 
influence. And while we all hope the Food and Drug Administration 
heeds the call of the AMA and other physicians groups to remove 
barriers to research and re-examine the federal government's 
classification of marijuana, Illinois legislators are elected to 
determine Illinois law.

They should pass this bill to both provide relief to suffering 
constituents, and in so doing further incentivize change at the federal level.

Over 260 doctors in Illinois, religious leaders, medical 
organizations, and those of us who have come to know patients 
suffering unremitting chronic pain have finally had enough. Doctors 
should determine medical need, not law enforcement.

HB 1 should pass immediately. Patients have waited far too long in Illinois.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom