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Medical Marijuana Bill Advancing in Senate


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Alton, IL - An Illinois medical marijuana bill has taken the next step by passing the state Senate Public Health committee and could be well on its way, advocates say. Members voted Wednesday 6-3 to allow seriously ill patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana as a medicine without fear of arrest if their doctor has recommended it.

The vote clears the way for possible floor votes by the entire Senate and House for the respective bills - a first for Illinois.

Jamie Clayton, 53, of Grafton is a longtime AIDS patient and medical marijuana advocate who participated in a groundbreaking FDA-approved study proving the drug's efficiency in treating pain caused by nerve damage.

"It's going pretty quick. I'm excited about it," Clayton said about the bill's progress. "We've got a long way to go, but it's made me think a lot more positively that we may get it passed this year. A lot of good people are at least taking notice that it's a reality that cannabis is a good medicine."

Clayton said the bill's biggest roadblock continues to be education.

"I think that we have to put things in context. It's not for everyone. It is a drug. We're not trying to say it is for everybody.

"What is important is it gives patients options. It may not be the magic bullet, (but) I would like to be able to use cannabis," he said. "If it's out there and it's therapeutic then I want to be able to include it in my therapy."

Clayton said that patients who would use it for medicinal purposes are generally smart about taking their medicines and would not abuse it.

In addition to its benefits fighting nerve pain, Clayton said the studies he's been involved with show medical marijuana can help patients eliminate the use of heavier narcotics in their treatments, such as hydrocodone and oxycontin.

"The study (of AIDS patients with peripheral neuropathy) showed that 50 percent of the people got relief," he said.

SB 1381, sponsored by three-term former state's attorney Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, is the companion bill to HB 2514, sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee, 4-3, on March 4.

"This is an important step for suffering Illinoisans who rely on medical cannabis because they, in consultation with their doctors, have determined it is the best treatment available to them," Haine said in a press release. "I'm grateful to my colleagues in the public health committee who listened to science and reason today and made the sensible, compassionate decision to pass this bill."

Advocates hope state lawmakers will note that 63 percent of Michigan voters approved a similar law last November and that a 2008 statewide poll shows 68 percent support among Illinois voters for such a law.

News Hawk: PFlynn - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Alton Telegraph, The (IL)
Author: Laura Griffith
Copyright: 2009 The Teleghraph
Contact: telegraph@thetelegraph.com
Website: Medical marijuana bill advancing in Senate | medical, bill, patients - Local News - The Telegraph
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