Supporters of Legalized MMJ Gear Up For Fight
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Supporters of Legalized MMJ Gear Up For Fight
Posted by CN Staff on June 04, 2009 at 18:38:16 PT
By Kari Andren, Post-Dispatch Springfield Bureau
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Springfield, Ill. -- Illinois lawmakers advanced a plan to legalize marijuana for medicinal use further than ever this spring, but proponents will have to work through the summer to drum up enough support for it to clear its final hurdles.The measure gained momentum over the last few weeks, passing the state Senate and a House panel, but the full House did not act on it before wrapping up its spring session Sunday.
State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, the bill's sponsor, said he plans to work hard over the summer to muster support from fellow House members."I'm hopeful it'll be ready for the (fall) session, but I'm not going to give up on this," Lang said. "It's about health care. A lot of people want to make it out to be about drugs, but it's about health care."If the House approves the bill this fall or next year, Gov. Pat Quinn still would have to sign it before the measure becomes law.The three-year pilot program would allow patients suffering from severe pain or nausea caused by a strict list of debilitating conditions to use marijuana if prescribed by their physician.With a prescription, patients would receive a medical marijuana identification card from the state Department of Public Health, allowing them to grow a 60-day supply at home  three mature marijuana plants  or get a 60-day supply from a licensed marijuana dispensary.Opponents have maintained that excess marijuana beyond what a patient needs could end up in the hands of children and teens and that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harsher drug use.Critics also say patients instead can use Marinol, an FDA-approved prescription drug made from THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, to ease their pain.Marijuana proponents, however, say Marinol does not produce the same relief as smoking marijuana, which contains a blend of more than 20 cannabinoids. Some people also experience unwanted side effects with the medication.Last month the U.S. Supreme Court shot down one oft-cited argument made by opponents of medical marijuana: that state laws allowing medicinal use of marijuana violate the drug's federal designation as an illegal substance. The court refused to hear a case brought by two California counties challenging the state's medical marijuana law, thus upholding the law and a lower court's ruling that the federal government cannot compel states to enforce federal law.Proposals to authorize medicinal marijuana use have been floated in the state Legislature several times before, but none has passed even one legislative chamber.Thirteen states have medical marijuana laws on the books and several other states across the nation are considering similar proposals.Lang's measure stands a chance of becoming law this year partly thanks to efforts by state Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, to narrow the bill in order to satisfy some of the opposition.Haine, a former Madison County state's attorney, carried the measure in the Senate where it passed 30-28 last week. Haine told his colleagues that approving the legislation "is saying we have common sense and compassion" for the seriously ill.Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)Author: Kari Andren, Post-Dispatch Springfield BureauPublished: June 5, 2009Copyright: 2009 St. Louis Post-DispatchWebsite: letters post-dispatch.comURL: Articles:Pot Bill Advocates Remain Hopeful Doctors Divided on Medical Pot
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