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Thursday, Apr 18, 2013

* Hallelujah

After years of rejecting plans to legalize medical marijuana, the House narrowly approved House Bill 1 on a 61-57 vote today. The measure now advances to the Senate. If it passes that chamber, Gov. Pat Quinn said he would be “open minded” but would not commit to signing the bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, said stricter restrictions in the current measure helped to persuade some representatives who had not voted for legalization in the past. “This is not about getting high,” Lang said. The measure was designed to “better provide health care to people who desperately need this product,” he said. Lang told the House his priority was to assist patients in chronic pain. “I know every single one of you has compassion in your heart,” he said. “This is the day to show it.”

The measure would implement a four-year pilot program legalizing medical marijuana from 2014 through 2018. Patients at least 18 years old applying for a medical marijuana card through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) would have to prove they have one of 33 serious or chronic conditions specifically listed in the bill, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or cancer. IDPH is authorized to add to the list in the future. Applicants must show they have an established relationship with their doctor who approves the use, and they would have to submit medical records for verification. Both patients and their caregivers, who must be 21 or older, would be subject to background checks. If a patient’s or caregiver’s card is revoked, he or she would not be allowed to reapply for a new one later. […]

Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, said he was satisfied the bill was regulated “from seed to sale” and voted for it. Several supporters during the floor debate cited people they knew who could have benefited from access to medical marijuana.

* Passage was never completely assured, so the debate mattered

With her voice breaking, Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch, told colleagues she opposed a similar measure in the past but changed her mind because of an ill friend and his wife who spent time at Osmond’s home while the man battled chronic pain tied to complications from cancer.

Osmond would not let him use marijuana in her house. Now, two years since his death, she said she wonders about her decision because he was in a daze from a painkiller prescription that “made him extremely sick, very sick.”

North Side Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy told colleagues the story of a brother-in-law who suffers from terminal cancer and “would not be with us if not for making use of cannabis.” Pain pills were “sucking the life out of him,” but now he and her sister can “enjoy what will be his last days,” she said.

“My sister and my brother-in-law, who I love dearly, are able to make the best of an absolutely horrific situation as a result of this product,” Cassidy said.

Rep. Deb Mell, D-Chicago, said she has taken medicine for pain since having a mastectomy in August and can relate to the suffering. “There’s a real panic that comes in because it’s like, ‘I can’t live with this pain, but I can’t keep taking these pills,’” she said.

Rep. Lang mostly kept his cool during the debate, and that was important because Lou can be off-putting at times.

* On to the Senate

It’s unclear how it might fare when it gets to the state Senate. The narrow House vote shows how politically tricky the issue can be.

State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, said he’d favor the plan. But others appeared more hesitant and wanted time to review what the House did.

“It definitely needs to be regulated correctly,” said state Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat

Gov. Pat Quinn said he’s “open-minded on that. I think we’ll watch what the legislature does today.”.

The Senate has already passed a much less stringent med-mar bill, so passage should be much easier than in the House. Sen. Cullerton is a DuPage County freshman Democrat, so he is just watching his own back. However, polling shows this is overwhelmingly favored by Illinois voters. Lang said during debate that the proponents had polled several House districts and not one of them was under 60 percent in favor, including GOP districts.

* Quinn despises Rep. Lang and Sen. Link (lots of gaming expansion fights), but he will likely be for it in the end as well

Quinn on Wednesday said the bill’s sponsor hasn’t reached out to him to build support on the measure.

The Democratic governor said he was recently visited by a veteran suffering from war founds who was helped by the medical use of marijuana. Quinn said he was “impressed by his heartfelt feeling” on the issue.

“I’m certainly open-minded to it,” he said.

* The roll call bounced around a lot

* Related…

* Final roll call

* VIDEO: State Rep Mike Bost: Medical marijuana today, legalized marijuana next

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - Amalia - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    “…from seed to sale….” awesome. congrats Lou Lang. Vote on, State Senators. it’s time.


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:16 am:

    Painkillers can be a truly a nasty addiction — serious mind-blowing drugs.

    Anyone who wants to smoke weed to kick painkillers is trying to be less stoned, not more.


  3. - David Lawson - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    I suffer from chronic pain that is ever worsening and periodically upping and changing pain medications on advice of my doctors is taking its toll.

    I’d like the option, but could not until Federal policy towards it would not strip my right to defend myself.


  4. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    Congrats, Leader Lou. We all probably know someone who
    could be helped by this bill.


  5. - RonOglesby - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    About time. Banning something outright that has a medical use just because it has a recreational use also is silly. We should ban all pain killers then right?

    This is a good move.


  6. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    My mom had to rely on her friend’s teenage son to get some marijuana for her when she was dying of cancer. Thanks to Lou Lang and everyone else who voted for this, patients won’t have to risk criminal sanctions for themselves or their suppliers when they seek relief from pain and the suffering that comes with cancer treatment.


  7. - Just Me - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    I am so tired of Quinn. He is upset the sponsor hasn’t reached out to him, but on another matter with the same sponsor his attitude was to wait and see what the legislature does and then decide. Make up your mind. Get a floor leader, make some relationships. BE A GOVERNOR!!!


  8. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 11:03 am:

    I also congratulate and thank everyone who voted for this bill, especially those who changed their votes because they see how MMJ could help very sick people.

    If it passes, like it should, I hope it works for Illinois, and I hope in the future the state eases its restrictions. I think the fingerprinting part is too extreme. Patients don’t need to get fingerprinted for lethal pain killers. They don’t need to be treated like quasi-criminals to get MMJ, but I understand that we are very cautious and just dipping our toes in the water instead of taking a bigger plunge.


  9. - UpTownNORMAL - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 11:07 am:

    Yawn. Illinois needs a recreational use bill.


  10. - B. Hicks - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    What is the difference between medical marijuana and medically prescribed opiates. I’d be willing to bet that weed is a little easier to kick than morphine and methadone.


  11. - wizard - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    a lady in our community is/was addicted to pain killers to the degree she committed repeated burgleries to obtain them spent time in jail is somewhat clean. is truly a nice person maybe this can help her if it passes.


  12. - danlinn - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    Thanks for your coverage and comments on this issue Rich and to all Capfax commenters


  13. - b - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 4:15 pm:

    agreed, up town. until the drug war is over, or i should say, changed to one of treatment over incarceration, the shackles of this war which bind our society will never broken.


  14. - mokenavince - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 5:10 pm:

    Legalize it, Tax it, and make it a ticketed offense if used out side of the home. We are in the 21st century not the early 20th.


  15. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 5:39 pm:

    I didn’t have a heart attack when CapFax proclaimed the News and razor-thin margin–I was just so relieved and joyous for something truly GOOD coming out of Springield, but I thought I would…!


  16. - j.knell - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 7:36 pm:

    Pass this bill to help the seriously ill. Then pass a general decriminalization because we can afford the luxury of pot prohibition anymore. Take a bit out of violent crime at the same time.


  17. - CarrollCounty - Thursday, Apr 18, 13 @ 10:50 pm:

    Great news for a change.


  18. - Northern Light - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 2:40 am:

    Great news from courageous legislators. This is way overdue. Marijuana is less harmful than aspirin. The legislative culture in Springfield is steeped in alcohol. I wonder how some of these legislators voting no would have voted if they had actually smoked pot. A victory for sick people and a monumental movement forward for Illinois.


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