Illinois Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

I’m kind of surprised this happened:

SPRINGFIELD-The idea of Illinoisans turning to pot to treat severe illnesses moved closer to reality Friday after the Illinois Senate approved the medicinal use of marijuana over GOP objections it would encourage more serious drug use.

The Senate’s 35-21 vote, which followed an emotional debate that lasted more than 90 minutes, moves the legislation carried by state Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) to Gov. Pat Quinn.

“We are confident a strict, controlled implementation of this for those who suffer pain with the diseases and conditions listed in the act can be well served,” Haine said. “Many of us have anecdotal evidence of the value of this. Doctors’ groups have endorsed this, nurses.

“It is a substance, which is much more benign than, for example, powerful prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and the rest. The scourge of these drugs is well known. This is not true of the medical use of marijuana,” said Haine, a former state’s attorney from Downstate Madison County.

The bill, which is entitled, ”The Compassionate Use Of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act,” has been thrown through the legislative wringer over the past couple of years, with some state legislators originally referring to it as “the toughest medical marijuana bill in the country.”

It’s slated to be a four year pilot program, but that’s just to break the ice in the bong. The bill establishes a seemingly permanent set of legal parameters regulating the use and distribution:

Users, growers and sellers would have to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Employers and landlords could bar medicinal marijuana use in their workplaces and buildings.

The plan would authorize 22 growers across Illinois and permit 60 dispensaries where users could purchase the plant.

It’s difficult to imagine they would ever be able to undo all of this infrastructure once the Weed Train has left the station, and the list of ailments and diseases required for a doctor’s prescription currently stands at 42, but that number is not exactly written in stone:

“Debilitating medical condition” means one or more of the following: (1) cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia,  heumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia, Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Myoclonus, Dystonia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I), Causalgia, CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II), Neurofibromatosis, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus, Interstitial Cystitis, Myasthenia Gravis, Hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, residual limb pain, or the treatment of these conditions; or (2) any other debilitating medical condition or its treatment that is added by the Department of Public Health by rule as provided in Section 45.

The list of acceptable ailments has all kinds of wiggle room for future expansion.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has stated that he is “open-minded” when it comes to medical marijuana, and the bill now seeks his signature for final passage in order for Illinois to become the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana.

  • muselet

    Medical marijuna laws pretty much guarantee federal intervention (ask cooperatives and dispensaries in California). It’s not like the feds have a lot of choice in the matter, mind, because the US is a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

    However, just on their own, medical marijuana laws open a big can of worms. The Illinois legislature, by writing the law itself, has tried to avoid most of the obvious problems (California’s—not very well-written—medical marijuana law is on the books because of a ballot initiative and has every problem you can imagine and some you can’t). We’ll have to wait and see which problems Illinois didn’t anticipate and which develop over time, and how the state responds.

    Best of luck to Illinois on this.


  • drsquid

    I had not been paying attention. Bill Haine sponsored this? That would be the state Senator for my district.

  • JackDaniel07

    Why are you surprised? As you say at the end, it will be the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana, and Washington and Colorado allowed for legal recreational use last year.

    There are far more “conservative” states than Illinois getting on board with cannabis, and its only a matter of time before its properly moved off of the list of Schedule I drugs and given its proper time in a lab.

    Just last week legitimate studies were released showing that cannabis use REDUCES the risk of bladder cancer & diabetes, can be used as an effective treatment for Crohn’s Disease, and another that showed that if nothing else, it makes people feel better about themselves.

    With an all-time high (see what I did there) 52% of Americans in favor of legalization, the only thing that surprises me is how far behind this curve a lot of progressives are.

    Even if weed is not your thing, supporting prohibition of what adults put into their bodies is a losing cause.

    • mrbrink

      Kind of surprised because the Illinois legislature has been skittish and emotionally charged about taking this leap. 18 states isn’t exactly a nationwide mandate.

      I just wonder how people who make their money on the black market are going to make out when marijuana dispensaries start popping up all over the place, cutting into their under-the-table income source. How can they compete with that?

      Don’t get me wrong, though, I think decriminalization is the right way to go to eliminate possession and distribution arrests. I think a well-regulated marijuana market better protects consumers from the dirt weed. But full-on legalization seems like it would open up the floodgates to corporate powers, lobbyists, and monopolies– which would essentially siphon off the friendly neighborhood small time dealers who rely on the black market income.

      I’d like to see some data on small time pot dealers who have been put out of business due to medical marijuana becoming more mainstream, or how not having to hang out with your dealer for an hour, or rolling through high crime areas to score a dimebag has improved stress and anxiety levels, or all around mental health of consumers =)

      • JackDaniel07

        Pro’s and Con’s, to be sure.
        Reporting from within that industry (and it *is* an industry), I can tell you that it is up for grabs, politically. Which is crazy, but true.

        • mrbrink

          I think I would have considered this write up a failure without your input.

          • JackDaniel07

            Writing for a living since the first of the year, I find myself out of words by the time I land on comments. But I lurk like a mofo, and love what you’ve been doing around here on Sundays. Thx for the efforts.