Illinois Lawmaker Pushes Medical Marijuana

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.

Massachusetts Question 3: Medical Marijuana

Posted on Friday, November 2nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm by Life Matters Media

This Election Day, Massachusetts voters will decide on whether to allow suffering and chronically ill patients the freedom to use medical marijuana. If controversial Question 3 passes, it would allow physicians to prescribe 60-day supplies of the drug to qualifying patients that could benefit.

Question 3

“This proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients,” according to the Secretary of State of Massachusetts. “To qualify, a patient must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. ” A patient must then receive written certification by a physician who deems the drug beneficial.

Qualifying patients would be allowed a 60-day supply of marijuana for their personal medical benefit. Each patient could designate a caregiver to assist with the prescription, and both patient and caregiver would register with the Department of Public Health.

Upon approval, not-for-profit medical marijuana centers would be allowed to sell the drug to patients. It would be legal for patients to grow their own 60-day supplies.

A statement approved by Associate Justice Robert Cordy in the Concord Journal states: “Under the medical marijuana law, patients would be able to get marijuana ‘produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use.’ ”

The Boston Globe reports the law “would allow up to 35 state-regulated, nonprofit centers to grow and sell marijuana to registered patients.” Only fifteen states allow medical marijuana.

An August 2012 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey found that 58 percent of Massachusetts voters supported ending state and civil penalties for medical marijuana use among qualifying patients. PPP surveyed more than 1000 likely voters by phone.

Medical marijuana remains controversial

The initiative remains controversial. In a guest post for the Globe, Dr. James B. Broadhurst, chairman of the Vote No on Question 3 Coalition, writes that as a physician specializing in addiction, the vote is concerning. “In Massachusetts the explosion of the narcotics supply, associated with increased pressure to treat pain more aggressively coupled with the decreased sense of risk related to these drugs prescribed by a physician, has led to greater use by our young people,” he writes.

CBS News reports that opponents to Question 3, including Heidi Heilman of the Massachusetts Medical Society, assert safeguards aren’t strong enough to prevent abuse among young people. “We just opened our fourth recovery high school in Massachusetts, and the number one drug that kids are in treatment for in those high schools is marijuana,” she says.

Some proponents of medical marijuana want an even more expansive law. “The crucial problem with Question 3 is that it addresses a half-measure, medicalization, rather than the real issue, legalization,” writes Jeffrey A. Miron, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, in The Huffington Post. “Marijuana prohibition makes no sense.”

Medical marijuana in Massachusetts isn’t the only movement proponents of medical marijuana are watching. Life Matters Media recently reported on patient and physician-based organization Americans for Safe Access, which in October urged a federal appeals court to ease regulations on marijuana. The drug is classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has no medically accepted use and high potential for abuse.

The official blog for the Americans for Safe Access reports that the court has ordered supplemental briefing on the issue of ‘standing,’ which the organization describes as a rare move.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Classifies Cannabis Alongside Heroin And LSD

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at 10:35 am by Life Matters Media

A patient and physician-based organization supporting the legalization of medical marijuana asked a federal appeals court last week to ease regulations on the drug. The organization, Americans for Safe Access, also accused the federal Drug Enforcement Agency of acting arbitrarily in refusing to reclassify marijuana as a less harmful drug. The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no medically accepted use and high potential for abuse.

A three-judge panel heard Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The last time the appeals court considered marijuana’s classification was in 2002.

The Huffington Post reports that Americans for Safe Access lawyer Joseph Elford asked the court to force the DEA to reconsider its classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. Other drugs classified as Schedule 1 include heroin and LSD. Drugs like cocaine, opium and methamphetamine are classified less strictly, as Schedule II, indicating “some accepted medical use.”

Elford also accused the DEA of ignoring 200 well-controlled studies that demonstrate that cannabis has legitimate medical uses. The Chicago Tribune reports that Americans for Safe Access wants the court to reclassify marijuana a Schedule III, or lower, drug.

Government lawyer Lena Watkins told the court, “They don’t have the type of study that would allow them or any other expert to reach a conclusion about the medical utility of marijuana.” She said the DEA found no “substantial evidence” of acceptable medical marijuana use.

She maintained that marijuana is dangerous, saying it causes “adverse physical and psychological consequences.”

The DEA rejected the studies Elford cited, Watkins said, because they did not meet the standard of double-blind FDA approval trials. She said results are still pending from 15 government-approved studies.

“This game of ‘gotcha’ will continue indefinitely unless this court intervenes,” Elford told the panel. “They won’t allow additional research to be conducted.”

The crux of the case rests on disabled military veteran Michael Krawitz. According to Americans for Safe Access, Krawitz was denied access to Veterans Administration services because of his use of marijuana for pain and stress. Krawitz resides in Virginia, where marijuana for medical use is not approved.

The official blog for the Americans for Safe Access reports that the court has ordered supplemental briefing on the issue of “standing,” which the organization describes as a rare move.

“[The] order asks the petitioners to provide the court with details about how plaintiff Michael Krawitz, a U.S. Air Force veteran, sustained harm as a result of the federal government’s refusal to recognize the therapeutic value of marijuana,” according to the posting.

The Los Angeles Times’ David G. Savage reports: “Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug dates to 1970, when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act. On two occasions since then, marijuana advocates have petitioned the DEA to reconsider the classification, citing the medical benefits of cannabis.”

Medical marijuana supporters have already won local approval for medical use in 16 states and D.C.