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IL MMJ Bill Clears Senate Committee


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Members of the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee passed a medical marijuana bill, 6—4, after receiving written and oral testimony from medical professionals, patients, and policy experts today.

S.B. 650, introduced by Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), is one of about a dozen medical marijuana bills currently under consideration by state legislatures across the country. Medical marijuana policy experts said they expect the bill, which would protect from arrest seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, to go to the Senate floor for a full vote within a month.

Committee members heard testimony from multiple sclerosis patient and Illinois Drug Education and Legislative (IDEAL) Reform board member Julie Falco of Chicago. They also considered written testimony from several other patients and experts, including registered nurse and multiple sclerosis patient Gretchen Steele of Coulterville, and psychiatrist Dr. Zulima Hurtado of Round Lake Park, who argued that her experience treating patients indicated medical choices are best left between doctors and patients.

"Medical treatment as a whole should be a choice between a doctor and the patient," she wrote. "The operative word being choice."

A registered nurse, Steele testified that medical marijuana was able to effectively and safely treat her symptoms when other more dangerous drugs failed.

"I can tell you from firsthand experience that marijuana works better to control the spasticity, neuropathic pain, and tremors than do any of the myriad prescription medications that I currently take," she wrote to the committee. "The fact that it is perfectly legal for my doctors to prescribe morphine, OxyCodone, diazepam, hydrocodone, and other drugs that are not only highly addictive but have many unpleasant side effects, yet it remains illegal to recommend marijuana, is beyond reasoning."

Although federal law makes patients who use doctor-recommended medical marijuana criminals, 11 states have effective laws protecting patients for whom serious research proves the medicine is safe and effective, including those suffering from symptoms associated with life-threatening diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and hepatitis C.

"Today, committee members made a sensible, compassionate decision to square the state's laws with the facts about medical marijuana," said Karen O'Keefe, MPP assistant director of state policies. "Thanks to them, seriously ill patients here may soon be able to focus on fighting their debilitating symptoms, and not on the fear of arrest and jail for simply following their doctor's treatment regimen."

With more than 20,000 members and 100,000 e—mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit Marijuana Policy Project - Home.

MPP tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and at the federal level.

Source: MPP
Contact: MarijuanaPolicy.org.
Copyright: © 2007 Marijuana Policy Project. All rights reserved.
Website: Marijuana Policy Project - Press Releases

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