Illinois Senate Approves Nation’s Strictest Medical Marijuana Law

Illinois Senate Approves Nation’s Strictest Medical Marijuana Law

Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 9:44 am by Life Matters Media

Image: WikiMedia Commons

Image: WikiMedia Commons

In what is being called the strictest medical marijuana law in the nation, Illinois lawmakers have agreed to legalize the drug for some terminally ill patients.

Only physicians with existing relationships with certain patients could prescribe the drug, and patient background checks are mandatory. Patients would not be allowed to grow their own marijuana or use the drug around minors or in public. “What this would set up is a four-year trial program for patients who have an established relationship with a doctor and who can demonstrate that they need this to ease symptoms and take them out of pain,” WGN-TV reports.

The bill also sets a 2.5 ounce limit per patient per purchase from 60 state regulated dispensaries. Illinois will license about 20 growers.

“This bill is filled with walls to keep this limited,” said Democratic Sen. Bill HaineThe Chicago Tribune reports.

The bill now heads to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has remained tight- lipped about whether he will sign the bill into law,  saying only that he is “open minded” about the issue. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a former prosecutor, said that after meeting with patients, she favored the plan, The Associated Press reports.

“We are embarking here on a way to achieve relief, compassionate relief, consistent with the law (with) a system which avoids abuse,” Haine said. “It’s the tightest, most controlled legislative initiative in the United State related to medical cannabis.” The Senate vote was 35-21, with five more than needed for passage.

“At the end of the day, we’re talking about a plant,” said Sen. William Delgado, a Democrat from Chicago.

But not all lawmakers are pleased with the legislation. “For every touching story that we have heard about the benefits of those in pain, I remind you today that there are a thousand times more parents who will never be relieved from the pain of losing a child due to addiction, which in many cases has started with the very illegal, FDA-unapproved, addiction-forming drug you are asking us to make a normal part of our communities,” said Republican Sen. Kyle McCarter before the vote. His daughter died in 2006 from a drug overdose.

According to the bill, “Modern medical research has confirmed the beneficial uses of cannabis in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS,” citing a 1999 study published by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

“Medical marijuana works really well for hospice patients,” said Dr. Matthew R. Sorenson, an associate professor at DePaul University’s School of Nursing. “Based off my research, I think this type of bill has a lot of potential. Marijuana has a lot of benefits for other patients, especially for those suffering from MS or chronic nausea.”


Illinois Lawmaker Pushes Medical Marijuana

Posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 at 8:55 pm by Life Matters Media

Illinois lawmaker pushes for medical marijuana bill

An Illinois sponsor of a medical marijuana measure says he may have enough votes to pass the bill in the Statehouse, the Chicago Tribune reportsRep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says his “nose count” has him near the 60 votes needed for approval of a three-year trial medical marijuana program called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which would be a first for Ill.

“If members vote their consciences, I’ll have the votes,” said Lang, who fell short a handful of votes last year, although the Senate approved similar previous legislation in 2010.

This season may be different, however, because three dozen lawmakers in the House and Senate are not coming back in the next General Assembly, making them lame ducks, Ray Long reports. “Their votes are more likely to be up for grabs given that they are not expected to face the voters again.”

CBS News reports that advocates of medical marijuana are in Springfield to lobby state lawmakers to approve the use of medical marijuana with strict limitations. The drug would only be prescribed by doctors, in small amounts, to qualifying terminally ill patients or their designated caregivers. Individuals suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis or a “debilitating medical condition” may qualify.

A qualifying patient or caregiver would only be able to legally possess 6 cannabis plants and 2 ounces of dried usable cannabis during a two-week period.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Countryside, opposes the measure because he fears it will make the drug more available. “Just in the last two weeks in DeKalb, there was a 10-pound traffic stop of medical marijuana that came from Oregon,” Durkin said.

The AP reports that Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Freeport, acknowledges that Lang may have enough votes to pass the measure, but the former FBI agent still plans to fight it. “I just see it as a tremendous mistake,” said Sacia.

Lang may bring the measure to vote this week at the General Assembly. He told the AP that there are “a whole bunch of people who are wavering.” He will work over the weekend before putting the measure to vote, although he may be close to the 60 votes needed.

Medical marijuana supporters have already won local approval for medical use in 18 states and D.C. Voters in Colorado and Washington chose to legalize marijuana, although, the federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no medically accepted use and high potential for abuse.


NJ Begins Medical Marijuana Registration

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 6:59 pm by Life Matters Media

Fox News is reporting, “For the first time, doctors in New Jersey can start signing their patients up for medical marijuana.”

There are caveats, however. “There are only 150 doctors who have signed up to prescribe marijuana. It is only available to patients with a handful of conditions. Also, only six dispensaries are anywhere near ready to open,” according to the report. Some patients have trouble finding doctors to prescribe.

The Associated Press reports, “The law was signed in January 2010, but no patients have obtained legal cannabis yet.” Some of the conditions include glaucoma and terminal cancer. “A registration card good for two years will cost $200. Patients on public assistance programs such as Medicare or Medicaid will have to pay just $20,” according to the AP.

Visit the New Jersey Department of Health for more information.