Bill Would Allow Ill Illinoisans To Use Marijuana

Bill Would Allow Ill Illinoisans To Use Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 14, 2005 at 07:49:12 PT
By Stephanie Sievers
Source: Quad-City Times
Springfield -- Irvin Rosenfeld credits the 10 to 12 marijuana joints he smokes each day with keeping him alive. The Florida man suffers from a disease that causes bone tumors to develop throughout his body. The disease causes joint inflammation, muscle tears, severe muscle spasms and hemorrhaging.
Rosenfeld tried mainstream drugs like morphine, but the only thing that's given him real relief for all his symptoms, he says, has been marijuana. Now 52 and a stockbroker in Ft. Lauderdale, he has been legally smoking for 22 years as one of a small group of patients who receive marijuana from the federal government as part of a medical cannabis project. Rosenfeld plans to come to Springfield this week to testify in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill people in Illinois to legally use marijuana under the recommendation of their doctors. "This medicine should be in the hands of physicians, not politicians or the police," he said. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Larry McKeon, D-Chicago, would allow people with debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain to legally possess two and half ounces of usable marijuana -- about a month's supply -- and up to 12 cannabis plants. They would confidentially register with the Illinois Department of Human Services for an identification card that would exempt them from potential arrest and prosecution. Ten other states already allow marijuana for medicinal use. McKeon said there are seriously ill people who believe that marijuana helps. For some, it helps control chronic pain. For others, it stimulates their appetite so they can eat or helps them control nausea so they keep other medicines down. McKeon, who himself is living with HIV, said patients don't want to break the law, but some are taking that risk for relief from pain. "Through the grace of God and modern chemistry I'm doing fairly well. I don't know if my health was to progress to cancer or (something else) what I would do, but I'd like to have the opportunity without being criminalized in the process," Similar legislation has stalled in the past, but co-sponsor Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, said it's time for lawmakers to get beyond political posturing. "This is a health-care bill. It's not a law-enforcement bill. It's not a drug bill," Fritchey said. "This is a bill that is about compassion and a recognition that traditional medicines don't always work in all circumstances." A medical marijuana bill also has been introduced in Iowa this year. Jim Getman of Davenport is director of Iowa NORML, part of the national push to reform all marijuana laws. He said the Illinois and Iowa bills are steps in the right direction. But law enforcement groups such as the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police oppose the bill, saying marijuana still is illegal in the eyes of the federal government and there are other legitimate and tested medications on the market. "It's nothing more than an attempt to backdoor the legalization of marijuana," said Laimutis Nargelenas, manager of governmental relations. Illinois passed a law in 1978 allowing for medical marijuana research but it has never been used. The latest legislation allows too much leeway for abuse and too little control over how the marijuana would be grown, Nargelenas said. Designated caregivers can be chosen to grow the marijuana if the patient doesn't want to, but potential criminals might be able to skirt the law under the guise of helping the sick. On top of that, the legislation threatens suspension or termination of state or local police officers who work with federal law enforcement to arrest or prosecute someone who qualifies for the Illinois program. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming months if the federal government can prosecute those using marijuana even for medicinal purposes. Despite that, McKeon is pushing his legislation now. "I'm unconcerned about the Supreme Court decision. Let them do what the Supreme Court will do and in the meantime, we're moving forward," he said. The Illinois Nurses Association has come out in support of better access to marijuana for therapeutic uses. And approval among the general public seems to be growing, McKeon said. AARP surveyed some of its members last year and 72 percent said they support marijuana used for medicinal purposes if recommended by a doctor. Of those surveyed, 55 percent say they would obtain marijuana for a suffering loved one. Illinois Drug Education and Legislative Reform, the group that helped write McKeon's bill, conducted a random poll of about 800 Illinois residents in 2002 and found that 67 percent believe a doctor should be allowed to prescribe marijuana to relieve pain and suffering. It jumped to 77 percent if the patient is terminally ill. Dr. Andrea Barthwell, a former deputy drug czar for the White House, now lives in River Forest and is traveling the state speaking out against marijuana use in general. She's opposed to the latest medical marijuana push because it subverts the traditional drug research process. That also concerns Kankakee oncologist Dr. Mehmet Sipahi, medical director of the Rush-Riverside Cancer Institute. He said it would be hard to say no to a terminally-ill patient who is in a lot of pain, but he and many other doctors would be reluctant to recommend marijuana without more clinical evidence that it works. "I personally would like to see real solid scientific research before I would be willing to use it." Complete Title: Bill Would Allow Seriously Ill Illinoisans To Legally Use MarijuanaNewshawk: MayanSource: Quad-City Times (IA)Author: Stephanie SieversPublished: February 13, 2005 Copyright: 2005 Quad-City TimesContact: opinions qctimes.comWebsite: http://www.qctimes.comRelated Articles & Web Sites:Iowa NORML Out of Time Cloud Medical Marijuana Debate Experts Weed Out Myths of Marijuana Rosenfeld Has Received MMJ from Government 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 14, 2005 at 19:19:50 PT
Thanks! I have it posted now. I sure appreciate Montel as sick as he is speaking out for us.
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Comment #6 posted by mayan on February 14, 2005 at 18:18:21 PT
Here's his new piece in the Chicago Tribune!US IL: OPED: Fighting for Your Life Shouldn't Be a Crime
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on February 14, 2005 at 17:31:53 PT
Irv Rocks!
Rosenfeld said it all..."This medicine should be in the hands of physicians, not politicians or the police," he said.Support the bill...Urge legislators to support H.B. 407 this session: Legislature Considers Medical Marijuana - Ask your Representative to support HB 407!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 14, 2005 at 12:23:54 PT
It good to see you and you make sense to me.
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Comment #3 posted by breeze on February 14, 2005 at 12:19:13 PT
Front page news announced that Vioxx and other arthritus pain meds are being taken from shelves- because the meds are responsible for heart attacks, stokes and other serious side effects. At the end of the article, it announced that Ibuprofin and other similar meds should only be taken for a limited period of time- less than two weeks, because of the side effects using those over the counter can cause as well.It seems that the elderly are in desperate need of medication that will not kill them because of their usage to alleviate pain. And so, what would be a safe herbal substitue, that would not only be effective but cheap as well- since the American public should know that not ALL elderly people are wealthy or live near the borders of Canada. I wonder what can be done to assist these people in their golden years?The VERY people who need this medicine are the VERY ones who have drastic misconceptions of it. Even then, IF the majority of the elderly who suffer from stiff joints, aches and pains due to their existence in an aging vessel were willing to try the herb as a medicine- where would they find it? I have read of several young thugs who prey on the elderly, much less give them the oppurtunity to scam them again for using something that is of great demand on the black market. So the viscious cycle isn't broken. The older generations are cautious, and righteously so, in dealing with people who make their living selling illegal substances other than marijuana- even more so when they are on a fixed income. To top this off, older people frequently have to choose between buying groceries or buying medications. Are they willing to chance searching for an honest distributor of medical marijuana? Not likely, no matter how much pain they are in- they come from a society that values integrity, honor and discipline. The very thing that many portrayls of the notorious "DRUG DEALER" evade. News programs and shows such as COPS frequently justify that portrayl, displaying the worst humanity has to offer- even as entertainment. We live in a sick and twisted society when people who obviously need treatment in a health facility instead of being arrested, are on display for public ridicule and observation ALL in the very name of entertainment.The government willingly admits that a vast majority of US citizens suffer from some type of mental, emotional or physical distress. Instead of helping/protecting these citizens, it chooses to create laws that go distinctly against the directive of making people healthier and providing them with legitimate solutions to proceed with more enjoyable and prosperous lives.But government alone is not responsible for the attitude against people who choose to use marijuana. Hollywood has played its destructive role as well. Frequently portraying the users of marijuana as slackers, non-achievers with little conscious is the modem operandi for generating money that most people find humourous. I enjoy Cheech and Chong movies just as much as anyone, but I also see how this type of comedy has been destructive. There have been other movies that have used the herb as a focus for achieving comical moments, but the comedy could have been attributed to any other substance or even the characters own idiocy just as easily. Did the Three Stooges ever use alcohol, marijuana or any other substance to get the laughs they recieved? No, they didn't need to use chemicals to demonstrate just how stupid people can be, they demonstrated just how stupid people can be dry and SOBER!Like all of you, I get older every day. One day, I will need medicine to help me with pain just because my body has betrayed me in its age. I will need medication, just as people need medication now. But, will I find it easily, or will I have to fret over risking being robbed by some hoodlum? Should I consider the future for my own benefit, or should I consider the present for others? Maybe if we could get everyone to consider the present, then I wouldn't have to worry so much about the future for myself and others like me. Maybe I would feel better about what I have done for others today, instead of having regret of what I DIDN'T do tommorow. Our society focuses so much on the youth of today, with little or no regard on those who are entering their climactic years. The baby boomers will be retiring en masse, will it be then- when the great numbers of todays prohibitionist's are suffering that this herb will become legitimate medication- purchased OTC instead of with a Doctor's prescription? Or is it likely that the DEA will win their WOD when there is so much profit to be made on both sides of the war? Who are the casualties and what is it worth? Prestige, nobility, chivalry, love, compassion, honor and protection are equally fine words, but they are meaningless when they aren't defined and utilized to their fullest potential. They are merely words, when a person needs the people who can provide and enforce their meaning- but choose to act otherwise. I beleive I have said enough- for my words have fell upon deaf ears for quite some time. But I keep shouting, even though I believe I have said enough- I suppose I will just have to keep repeating myself. Until people finally wake up and realize just how they have harmed others by their NON-ACTION, instead of RE-ACTION. I suppose I am grateful for one thing though, that is- tommorow, I will have fewer regrets, for I tried to do something to make it better for others, today.Thanks for reading, hopefully you will have a little less regret tommorow as well.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 14, 2005 at 11:45:15 PT
Irvin Rosenfeld 
We are very lucky to have him speaking out for us. He doesn't have too but he does.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 14, 2005 at 07:54:12 PT:
They forgot one crucial sub-topic
Debate. I intend to write an LTE to remind them of it...and to remind them of how effective prohibition is - mainly, NEVER. 
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