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.