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State House Narrowly Defeats Medical Marijuana Bill

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The Illinois House on Thursday narrowly turned down a measure that would have allowed the medical use of marijuana.

The measure, House Bill 30, known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, failed in a 53-61 vote, with four members voting "present."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said the measure would have allowed patients with prescriptions to get marijuana from one of 59 state-approved, not-for-profit dispensaries, whose owners and workers would have to pass criminal background checks.

It would have allowed medical use of marijuana under a three-year pilot program. In order for medical use of marijuana to continue after that time, the legislature would have had to approve it again.

There was no official record of how individual representatives voted. That's because Lang, after the vote, requested that consideration of the bill be postponed, meaning it could be brought up for a vote again. That's a common parliamentary move made by representatives when their bills are voted down, but there is no guarantee it will be brought up again.

Lang said medical use of marijuana would help patients like Illinois resident Jim Champion, an Army veteran who has multiple sclerosis. Lang said Champion takes a few puffs, "and his hands open up, and his legs uncross."

Lang added, "Every one of us has people in our district who need this product."

Opponents noted that marijuana would remain illegal under federal law. Lang argued the U.S. Department of Justice has stated it will not pursue cases involving medical use of marijuana where state law allows it.

Opponents also argued that medical use of marijuana would lead to the outright legalization of marijuana, and that the state doesn't currently have the resources to govern a medical marijuana program.

The law would have allowed patients to buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a 14-day period.

Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Freeport, held up a bag of what he said was 2.5 ounces of a lookalike material. He said the 2.5-ounce limit would allow users to smoke "10 to 13 joints a day."

Rep. Tom Cross, R-Plainfield, urged members to look at the list of diseases which would make a patient eligible to use marijuana. They included cancer, AIDS, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's.

Cross said the diseases on the list "are about as bad as they get," and people who have them would not be inclined to abuse drugs.

Lang asked members to have courage to vote for the bill. He said some members had told him they personally supported it, but feared the political fallout.

The state Chamber of Commerce had voiced concern that workers who use marijuana would be able to claim they tested positive for marijuana because a friend or relative had used medical marijuana.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: bnd.com
Author: Brian Brueggemann
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Copyright: Belleville News-Democrat
Website: State House narrowly defeats medical marijuana bill
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