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*** UPDATED x2 - Bill fails with just 53 votes - Video of full debate *** House vote expected today on medical marijuana

Thursday, May 5, 2011

*** UPDATE 1 - 1:35 pm *** The House is now debating the bill. Watch or listen by clicking here.

*** UPDATE 2 - 2:03 pm *** House Bill 30 failed with just 53 votes. Rep. Lang put the bill on postponed consideration.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Watch the full debate

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* The Chicago Reader interviewed House Republican Leader Tom Cross this week on his change of heart in favor of legalizing medical marijuana

Why did you oppose it before? Why did you switch your position?

You’ll notice that I work on a lot of criminal justice legislation. I used to be a prosecutor [in the Kendall County State’s Attorney’s Office], and my background was in law enforcement, and my initial inclination was that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I also thought the bill was initially written in a broad way. I expressed my concerns to Lou Lang. Now it lists specific illnesses—such as cancer, lupus, and Crone Crohn’s disease—and there are some limits on how the marijuana can be grown and produced. So I think it’s a better bill.

And the more I talked to people and heard their stories, it seemed to me to be an issue of compassion. I talked to people in the medical field, and doctors have told me that in some cases this is really the only thing that works as a pain killer. I didn’t know how we could deny it to people who are suffering. […]

What’s the reaction been like? What have you heard from other Republicans?

I think four or five have said they’re going to vote for it since the changes to the original bill. Overall, people have been pretty positive. Some people have been nasty—like the Illinois Family Institute. But that’s to be expected.

Those four or five new GOP votes could be crucial. We’ll see soon enough.

* Rep. Lou Lang’s changes to his bill also put some former organizational opponents on the sidelines

The Illinois State Police, Fraternal Order of Police and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce are among recent groups that have now taken a neutral position, a change from their previous opposition to the bill.

* And the SJ-R editorialized in favor of the bill this week

Also contributing to our support for this bill is our hope that efforts like this across the country will help push the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration to rethink its policy on the medicinal value of marijuana and push for more research. There currently is a licensed drug on the market, Marinol, which contains a synthetic version of THC, the main therapeutic component of marijuana. But it is regarded as substantially less effective for pain and nausea than natural cannabis and its capsule form is difficult for patients with severe nausea to ingest.

We don’t think smoking is a healthy or precise delivery system for any form of medicine, but until the FDA encourages development of better alternatives, it’s all that is available.

We support this bill while acknowledging that California’s lax and haphazard medical marijuana program has become a joke, allowing just about anyone who wants marijuana to get it. The bill currently in the General Assembly uses the California example as a cautionary tale and carefully avoids its many failures. It’s a mix of compassion and caution that the House and Senate should approve.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


33 Comments
  1. - Bob - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 7:36 am:

    It time to Move to Ky. No death penalty, no matter how heinous the crime! Citizen are not allowed to protect themselves, from guns carrying criminals! Now as long as a doctor approves, you can smoke dope!


  2. - just sayin' - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 7:37 am:

    This proposed IL law would fly in the face of federal law would it not?

    Aren’t Cross and the rest encouraging people to buy a drug that’s still going to be illegal under federal law?


  3. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 7:51 am:

    Oh my god, there are guns carrying criminals now? When did that happen?


  4. - Palatine - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 7:59 am:

    Legalize it and tax the beejeezes out of it.


  5. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:06 am:

    Palatine x2.


  6. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:17 am:

    x3, except for extreme medical necessity where it shouldn’t be taxed.


  7. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:51 am:

    Why in the world was the Illinois Chamber of Commerce opposed in the first place?

    @Bob - Kentucky just enacted legislation on March 16th reducing the penalties for marijuana possession for EVERYBODY, not just medical users, and for mere possession of other “controlled substances”:

    “individuals solely accused of marijuana possession will be cited — not arrested — under H.B. 463. If there are reasonable grounds to believe the individual will appear in court, H.B. 463 provides that police may not arrest people for misdemeanors. There are some exceptions that should not apply when the only issue is marijuana possession and the defendant follows reasonable instructions.

    H.B. 463 will also reduce penalties for other low-level drug offenses to probation and addiction treatment, rather than prison. Currently, one fourth of Kentucky’s prison population is serving time for drug-related offenses. H.B. 463 was based on the recommendations from a report by the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act, which was created to find cheaper alternatives to incarceration.”

    Like Kentucky, one-fourth of Illinois’ prison population is serving time for non-violent drug offenses.

    That’s roughly 11,000 inmates incarcerated at $40,000 a year…$440 MILLION a year we’re spending.

    Meanwhile, we’ve got more than 10,000 Illinoisans on waiting lists for drug addiction who want to quit.

    What’s even dumber than telling folks who want to stop abusing cocaine, heroin, meth or alcohol to come back in six months?

    Slashing drug treatment funding even further. Which is what the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly are getting ready to do.

    So, to recap: Kentucky is more progressive than Illinois when it comes to drug policy and smarter than us when it comes to state spending.

    Oh yeah: I almost forgot…Kentucky has a progressive income tax too.

    Maybe your right…maybe we should move to Kentucky.


  8. - JustaJoe - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:10 am:

    Isn’t there more important stuff to do?


  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:15 am:

    –It time to Move to Ky. No death penalty, no matter how heinous the crime! Citizen are not allowed to protect themselves, from guns carrying criminals! Now as long as a doctor approves, you can smoke dope!–

    You don’t need a doctor’s approval to smoke weed in Kentucky. The whole state is one rolling, smoky contact buzz.

    Marijuana production is by far the state’s biggest cash crop and among it’s largest industries, up there with coal, horses and automotive.

    Best to keep on the marked trails in the state and federal parks and forests. Some nasty booby traps protect those patches. And the growers have been known to administer the death penalty on the spot to poachers.

    Look out for Boyd Crowder and Dickie Bennett, too.


  10. - langhorne - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:32 am:

    What diseases or language about qualifying conditions is included? Is neuropathy covered?


  11. - MrJM - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:34 am:

    @Bob - Don’t let the door hit ya…

    – MrJM


  12. - Colossus - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:43 am:

    Now, if only we could drop the “medical” part of this…


  13. - mokenavince - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:54 am:

    We spend far to much time throwing people in jail
    for small amounts of marijuana. Make it legal and tax the daylights out of it. As long as it’s done in private what’s the big deal . Open up cafe’s just for it’s use and lisence them. If it make’s a
    person in bad health feel better,why not.


  14. - Loop Lady - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 10:01 am:

    Do it.

    I’d rather deal with a stoner any day than a drunk.

    Possesing under a gram for any personal use should carry no penalty whatsoever.

    Our police departments have much bigger fish to fry.

    Legalize it, then tax it…


  15. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 10:03 am:

    ==Now as long as a doctor approves, you can smoke dope!==

    So Doc… you are telling me that all I need to do is contract cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus or HIV/AIDS and you’ll then let me smoke the dope in my own home when the suffering becomes unbearable?
    I’d say we have a deal!!!


  16. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 10:16 am:

    ==What diseases or language about qualifying conditions is included? Is neuropathy covered?==

    (d) “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, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation & 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, or the treatment of these conditions;


  17. - Fed up - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 10:22 am:

    Mokenavice

    Who goes to jail for small amounts of cannabis? No one. Try and find a judge that will find someone guilty on cannabis possession on misdemeanor amounts. I agree that cannabis should be legalized and taxed but don’t use the supposed people are in jail for cannabis possession it’s just not true.


  18. - amalia - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 11:07 am:

    Legalize it!!!!!


  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 11:28 am:

    == Who goes to jail for small amounts of cannabis? No one. Try and find a judge that will find someone guilty on cannabis possession on misdemeanor amounts. ==

    @Fed up - Possession of 30 grams/1 ounce of marijuana — about $300 worth of pot — is a Class 4 FELONY in Illinois, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

    Now, reasonable people can disagree about whether or not an ounce is a large amount of pot or a small amount of pot.

    I will say that retail theft/shoplifting of $300 or more in merchandise is also a Class 4 Felony. But is possession of an ounce of pot morally equivalent to stealing a couple of i-Pods or a designer dress? I don’t think so…but let’s have that debate.

    Oh yeah, there is no debating that 1/4 of Illinois’ prison population is incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses and we’re spending more than $400 million per year to keep them there.

    Talk about getting wasted.


  20. - hammer - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 12:14 pm:

    YDD, did you just out yourself? How do you know the current street value?


  21. - D.P. Gumby - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 12:25 pm:

    This is probably the strategy to get concealed carry…get the GA stoned and then call the concealed carry bill!!


  22. - TJ - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 12:26 pm:

    ==Now as long as a doctor approves, you can smoke dope!==

    So Bob, you mean to say that you approve the government stepping in between a patient and his/her doctor? Wasn’t there a big whole brew-haha on the national level just a year or two ago about how we shouldn’t let the government step in on doctor/patient matters? Wasn’t that a major talking point?


  23. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 1:04 pm:

    @hammer -

    I looked it up through the federal government, whose STRIDE (System to Retrieve Information from Drug Enforcement) Program compiles street drug-pricing data on a quarterly basis based on the reported prices paid by undercover police officers and police informants in sting operations.

    Now, how do YOU know the current street value?


  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 1:10 pm:

    ==Now as long as a doctor approves, you can smoke dope!==

    That’s right Bob…all you have to do is go get cancer, lupus, Crohn’s, or some other chronic disease first.

    Ha! Chronic…I made a funny.


  25. - JBilla - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 1:38 pm:

    Illinois, land of rapidly competent policy. It’s about time.


  26. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==Illinois, land of rapidly competent policy. It’s about time==

    4 present votes again in a real profile in courage…sheesh


  27. - Seriously??? - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 2:09 pm:

    Yes, they oppose it. Until they or someone they love contracts one of these horrific conditions and is in such pain that medical marijuana is the only thing that can help. Then they will be all full of compassion won’t they?


  28. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 3:09 pm:

    === Until they or someone they love contracts one of these horrific conditions and is in such pain that medical marijuana is the only thing that can help. Then they will be all full of compassion won’t they? ===

    LOL. Wanna bet? I mean, honestly, do you think those that voted against the civil unions bill have NO gay relatives?


  29. - amalia - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 3:29 pm:

    dear house members…..some of you are a really sorry lot of legislators. those who voted present…..you are really not present in your own lives. please change your mind as this legislation is important to people who are in pain.


  30. - Not So Quick . . . - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 5:04 pm:

    Failed? You’ve gotta be kidding . . .


  31. - just sayin' - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 5:14 pm:

    Shows how weak Tom Cross is even in his own caucus. Losing.


  32. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 6:31 pm:

    Very sad, very silly, very stupid, but we live in that kind of time. My grandparents wouldn’t have opposed a little herbal relief for the suffering. Strange times.

    See you in church.


  33. - Thomas Jefferson - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:58 pm:

    Culture War 1
    Cancer Whiners 0


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