Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn should quickly sign the medical marijuana bill on his desk, affirming the consensus of patients suffering from crippling illness, their physicians and faith leaders who see marijuana as an effective, affordable treatment.

Then Illinois can begin the tough, but necessary work to decriminalize, regulate and tax a drug whose biggest public threat remains draconian laws and exploitive enforcement.

The medical marijuana bill awaiting the governor’s signature allows the state health department to issue cards to people with a physician’s recommendation. Those cards permit patients up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from a limited number of licensed dispensaries. It’s a logical, compassionate bill that would have been law years ago if up to most physicians.

The American College of Physicians in 2008 joined the fight to remove marijuana from the list of criminal narcotics and introduce it into medical therapy and research. Study after study attest to the specific benefits of marijuana to treat nausea and anxiety, common symptoms for cancer patients and those enduring nerve and muscle disorders.

The Illinois bill is intended to restrict marijuana use to ill patients and prevent the sham dispensaries in other states that issue prescriptions for almost any reason. Illinois Quad-City Reps. Pat Verschoore and Mike Smiddy supported it. Sen. Mike Jacobs declined to cast a vote.

But this bill, like other laws, still creates an awful conflict that shields those prescribed marijuana, but allows state and federal prosecution for those who process and ship it. Illegal shipments are nabbed almost weekly on Interstate 80, where state troopers use minor traffic offenses to target suspected traffickers. We’ve read accounts where searches are conducted on motorists pulled over for driving five miles over the interstate speed limit.

The trafficking enforcement is very lucrative for law enforcement agencies who are able to seize cash and property without obstruction from suspects, some of whom never face criminal prosecution. We can’t blame police; they deploy resources for the most lucrative busts. Nabbing marijuana runners on I-80 is akin to catching fish in a barrel.

Instead of sustaining this cat-and-mouse game, legislators should decriminalize marijuana use as the first step toward regulating and taxing it.

Police still can be on the lookout for impaired drivers. Addiction counselors still can provide treatment for excessive marijuana users, who comprise just a fraction of those seeking help to escape alcohol addiction.

For Illinois, drug law reform begins with the governor’s signature on a bill that convinced majorities in both the House and Senate, follows the advice of major physician groups and is supported by at least six mainline American faith denominations.

(20) comments

ej7smith

I am a pain management patient for life and my best friend is 31 and dying of liver/kidney failure. We could benefit from marijuana rather than be addicted to legal heroin and have no life by being doped up on the REAL drugs. Pot is not addictive and has far more benfits. I hate that I will never have a normal life and have to take these terrible pills everyday. Have some compassion please and think outside your comfort zone.

atlasshrugged

Oddly enough, legalization and decriminalization of marijuana should be the one issue that unites both those on the left and the right.
Anyone who uses alcohol should be in favor of this.
With the nanny state mentality that rules our country today, as a libertarian, I can totally envision a world someday where ANYTHING you do will be scrutinized by Big Brother with the minions of sheep going along with their decisions mistakenly giving up more and more freedoms for an imagined sense of better security.
The "so called war on drugs" has been going on for 40 plus years now and has been a dismal failure both socially and financially.
If you like to drink, do not be a hypocrite and support decriminalization of marijuana or someday your drug of choice, alcohol will be illegal also.

senor citizen

I agree as a Libertarian you should have complete control over your own body, and the public should not tp pay for the result. The employers should not be held accountable for refusing to employ any group of people. That includes repealing most of the anti-discrimination laws.

sludgefund
sludgefund

Cannabis prohibition (much like alcohol prohibition) has been a complete failure. Adult individuals should be free to make their own choices. The role of the government is to protect our liberties. People have the right to live their lives in any way they choose so long as they don’t violate the equal rights of others. What right could be more basic, more inherent in human nature, than the right to choose what substances to put in one’s own body? Whether we’re talking about alcohol, tobacco, herbal cures, saturated fat, or marijuana, this is a decision that should be made by the individual, not the government. If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us? What limits on government action are there? Federal drug prohibition is not authorized by the Constitution. We have never passed a constitutional amendment granting the federal government any power to ban cannabis. The federal government’s contemporary prohibition policy is an illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of a power never granted to it.

sludgefund
sludgefund

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it will permit patients at its VA hospitals to use medical marijuana in the states that have declared medical marijuana legal. The VA's Directive states that "patients participating in state medical marijuana programs must not be denied VHA services."

sludgefund
sludgefund

The Department of Health and Human Services actually holds a patent on medical cannabis as a neuroprotectant: United States Patent No.: 6,630,507 B1

sludgefund
sludgefund

None of the naysayers have any legitimate dispute with cannabis having medicinal properties. The recurring flawed argument that keeps appearing (paraphrased) is: "the system will be abused"...using that logic I suppose we should prohibit ALL pharmaceuticals/drugs.

twiggy
twiggy

Of course it is open for corruption! I had cancer, two different rounds of Chemo, one for 4 sessions, the next for 12. Also had 25 rounds of Radiation. I never once had nausea. The advances in recent years in ways to prevent it are fantastic. Having said that, I can imagine some do still have nausea, if so, give them the marijuana. I am willing to bet less than 10% of what is "prescribed" will actually be used to combat pain or nausea.


While it may be made legal, to an extent, no employer has to allow it's presence in their workplace. They also don't have to allow those on alcohol in the workplace. If someone is prescribed a drug which is going to alter their reality, they don't have to allow the worker in the workplace either. A construction worker on high doses of oxycodone is NOT going to be put in charge of a crane.

JoeDaWg82
JoeDaWg82

This will have no effect on an employer's right to drug test or fire individuals. All drugs "alter" your reality, sugar and caffeine included. And you have no idea who needs this drug or for what. Simply pulling a 10% figure out of thin air is irresponsible.

Klaatu
Klaatu

As much as it pains me to agree with Twiggy, I must. It will be abused and there will be fraud. In California teenagers go to "clinics" and get scrip for pot very easily. I can see you chomping at the bit to get you some legal pot.

twiggy
twiggy

Of course one difference is Oxycodone and marijuana will be controlled substances, while coffee and sugar are not. Illinois is a right to work state, the employee works at the will of the employer, who may fire that employee at will, for no reason. The 10% figure IS coming from my opinion, I concede. It is a guestament. "If you are employed at will, your employer does not need good cause to fire you. In every state but Montana (which protects employees who have completed an initial "probationary period" from being fired without cause), employers are free to adopt at-will employment policies, and many of them have. In fact, unless your employer gives some clear indication that it will only fire employees for good cause, the law presumes that you are employed at will" http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employment-at-will-definition-30022.html

budnight

I don't hardly see any opportunity for corruption if this gets signed into law, do you?

senor citizen

I would hope that employers will still be allowed to drug test for this as they are currently. After all if you are so sick you need this, you're too sick to go to work. Corruption in Illiniois is unheard of, as we all know.

JoeDaWg82
JoeDaWg82

It will not stop employers from srug testing, but your assertion that using medication means you are too sick to work is ridiculous. We should be encouraging people to work, not sit at home on the government teet. Using marijuana as medicine is no different from using tylanol or vicodin. Just because you fill a prescription at the pharmacy does not mean you should sit at home unemployed.

twiggy
twiggy

During my year of treatment, Chemo, bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation I continued to work, full time. I did take two weeks off for the mastectomy. It's kind of sad that you equate sick folks who need time off with "not sit at home on the government teet." I truly hope you never find yourself in the situation of being really sick and in need of help.

JoeDaWg82
JoeDaWg82

Sign the bill ASAP. This shouldn't be something that takes a minute longer than necessary. The fact that it has taken this long to pass a common sense bill is a crime. 80% of the public supports medical marijuana, this should have happened decades ago.

longjohn412

The real corruption is caused by Prohibition itself just like with the Alcohol Prohibiution that nearly everyone agrees was bad and didn't work

And Alcohol is a much MUCH more dangerous Drug than Marijuana, in fact it's not even remotely close as the number of deaths per year from alcohol and ZERO deaths from Marijuana prove beyond all doubt

This is and always has been more about protecting the Paper Pulp industry (ie. = Koch Brother Monopolies) than anything else which is why Commercial Hemp with no real THC in it is banned when it could be a very useful Cash Crop for making everything from paper to diesel fuel .....

Klaatu
Klaatu

That is simply not true. You cannot begin to quantify the damage from pot. It permanently impairs brain function in regular users and it damages the lungs the same as any inhaled substance. Zero deaths from pot? You are just making that up. You don't know and you can't show any documentation for that claim.

longjohn412

And alcohol does more damage to your liver, esophagus, heart, and digestive system at a much faster pace .....

Either you Prohibit both or neither ,,,,, Anything else is Hypocrisy Squared and usually from someone who wants to make their own drug use (and alcohol; is undeniably just that, a drug) somehow more Moral than the other guy's drug use ....

It's not, it's the EXACT same thing

sludgefund
sludgefund

“No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.” -Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Drug Fact Sheet:Marijuana. The Department of Health and Human Services actually holds a patent on medical cannabis as a neuroprotectant: United States Patent No.: 6,630,507 B1. Marijuana does not impair lung function—at least not in the doses inhaled by the majority of users, according to the largest and longest study ever to consider the issue, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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