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Medical Marijuana Bill on Hold, But Will Be Voted on Again

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Freeport, Ill. –Legislation making it legal to possess marijuana in Illinois for medical reasons failed to garner enough votes Thursday to be approved by the Illinois House of Representatives.
Even so, the bill in question did get enough support to be placed on "postponed consideration," which means it will likely come up for a vote again in the near future. State Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica, and local police officials say they have serious reservations about the proposed law, and that the legislation, if enacted, would be unsafe and difficult to enforce.
"In my opinion, it's a very bad piece of legislation," Sacia said. "Federally, it is illegal to possess a Schedule 1 drug, which marijuana is. ... Until it is made legal by the federal government and the FDA regulates it, likely in pill form, only then will I support such a law."
Since the bill was placed on postponed consideration, the chief sponsor of the legislation, State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, has the option to bring the matter up again at a later date. On Thursday, the medical marijuana bill received 53 yes votes, and needed 60 such votes to be approved, Lang said. The measure needed at least 48 yes votes to qualify for postponed consideration.
Lang said Friday that he's still 100 percent behind his bill, and that he will revisit the issue if he thinks he can garner enough votes for the measure to pass. If the bill is approved by the House, it will move on to the Senate.
Lang added that there are a number of legislators who are against the bill publicly, but who are privately in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. It's unfortunate, Lang said, that politics has to enter into an issue that has to do with alleviating pain for sick people.
"Politics gets involved, which is unfortunate for the people that need the relief this law will provide for them," Lang said. "This is a carefully crafted bill that dealt with all the issues that were raised (when it was first presented) in January. ... You can always find a reason to vote no on a controversial issue."
Law Specifics
If approved, House Bill 30 would create the "Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act." Among other things, the law would allow someone diagnosed with a "debilitating medical condition" to possess a certain quantity of marijuana.
Qualifying medical conditions cited in the bill include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and numerous others.
The legislation requires a patient to have a doctor's "written recommendation" and the patient must have a "bona fide relationship" with their doctor, Lang said. Also, the law requires the patient's medical records to be turned over to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Lang said.
If they qualify, the sick individual and their primary caregiver would be issued a registry identification card by the IDPH. This card would allow the patient or their caregiver to legally possess no more than 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis during a 14-day period. The law does not allow you to have more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis at any period of time, Lang said.
The legislation would prohibit qualified patients from operating a motor vehicle unless six hours have passed since the patient last consumed medical cannabis, Lang said.
Too Much Cannabis?
Sacia said 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks adds up to about 10 to 13 "joints" a day, which is a very large amount, he said. By allowing this much marijuana to be legally possessed, the law will make it very difficult to ensure that this cannabis does not wind up in the hands of recreational drug users, Sacia said.
"Trying to regulate that only for people with debilitating diseases would end up being an absolute abomination," Sacia said.
Freeport Police Chief Jerry Whitmore said he's also worried about the enforcement problems that could arise from such legislation. Setting aside the health risks associated with cannabis, the amount of medical marijuana allowed by the bill is simply too high, he said.
"It's a significantly high amount," Whitmore said.
Community Control
In addition, Whitmore said a community, under the proposed law, would not be able to ban a marijuana dispensary if it wanted to. All of this adds up to a higher risk of marijuana use among local young people, Whitmore said.
"Part of our concern is youth having more access to legal marijuana, and the effect it would have on the driving public," Whitmore said, adding that impaired driving is a huge safety risk.
Lang said a community could establish restrictive zoning laws for marijuana dispensaries, making it difficult to establish them. He added that the current drug laws need to be changed, to protect sick people who are seeking relief.
"It makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens who just want relief from pain," Lang said of the laws. "Without (the medical marijuana law), a 75-year-old colon cancer patient (using cannabis) will continue to be a criminal, and it's not good policy to allow that."

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: journalstandard.com
Author: Travis Morse
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: GateHouse Media, Inc.
Website: Medical marijuana bill on hold, but will be voted on again
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