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Medical marijuana bill heads to Senate floor

Thursday, May 9, 2013

* Passage yesterday was expected since the bill was sent to the Executive Committee, which means it was greased

An Illinois Senate committee has approved a proposal that would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Senate Executive Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday to send the measure to the full Senate. The proposal allows physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions.

The measure creates a pilot program that limits the frequency and amount of marijuana patients can buy.

The Senate floor vote is final passage.

* Yesterday’s most interesting objection

Republican Leader Christine Radogno told [sponsoring Sen. Bill Haine] she doubted that if medical marijuana were legalized, it would strictly stay in the hands of its intended patients. “It will get out on the streets,” she said. She told Haine she thought the bill’s scope was too narrow for it to work. “I don’t think it addresses the bigger picture. I really think the question is if we should legalize it.”

OK, but would she actually vote for full legalization? If so, that’s huge.

* Another objection

Supporters have touted the bill as the most restrictive of its kind in the nation, but questions during the more than hour-long debate arose over whether the bill would open up legalization of other substances and whether marijuana is an addictive ‘gateway drug.’

“I’ve seen the devastation of illegal drugs,” said Haine, who served four terms as Madison County state’s attorney. “I’ve seen it, but we can’t build a civilized society on a foundation of fear of a few people that are demented or are addicted that abuse medicines.”

But Jacksonville police chief Anthony Grootens, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency for 21 years, testified that he’s seen marijuana linked with other drugs such as heroin and that the amount patients could obtain under Haine’s bill leaves too much room for abuse.

“I don’t know if it’s a gateway drug or not, but what I will tell you, in the thousands of arrests and search warrants that we’ve conducted…for either heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, we routinely found marijuana,” Grootens said. “Does it go hand in hand? I don’t know. But we found it, and we’re still finding it.”

Grootens claimed that even if changes were made to the bill, he wouldn’t support it because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

A very weak argument by Chief Grootens.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - Capo - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    Chief Grootens,

    How many times on those search warrants did you find beer in the fridge, other hard liquor and packs of cigarettes laying around the house? A very weak argument indeed.


  2. - MrJM - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    I will tell you, in the thousands of arrests and search warrants that we’ve conducted…for either heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, we routinely found marijuana

    Nearly everyone who subsequently abused heroin, crack cocaine or methamphetamine started, at an early age, routinely drinking milk.

    When will Illinois finally recognize the slippery-slope of lactose?!?

    – MrJM


  3. - Chris - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    “Radogno told [sponsoring Sen. Bill Haine] she doubted that if medical marijuana were legalized, it would strictly stay in the hands of its intended patients.”

    Does that imply that she thinks we should ban Oxycontin and other opiod pain meds? Because it’s the *exact* same thing, except that Oxy is available at 1000s of pharmacies, and the pot will only be available at 22(?).


  4. - zatoichi - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Grootens has a point, but snacks, shoes, milk ,and any number of thousands of other things were also routinely at those places. On the other hand, how many hundreds of thousands of people sorted seeds on a double album and today are in all types of professional and responsible jobs?


  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:17 am:

    Isn’t alcohol a gateway drug?


  6. - KMJones - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    I am forced to wonder how many of the searches mentioned by the Chief, led to real drug charges. How many times have they searched for heroin, cocaine and other drugs and only find marijuana? How many times do they search and come up empty? Wouldn’t these be more interesting statistics than to hear that aspirin was found during a search of a drunk drivers car? Did aspirin cause the DWI?


  7. - DirtNap - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:24 am:

    or a frisbee


  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:28 am:

    A step forward, but it still surprises that it takes a bill this strict to get any movement in Illinois.

    For the life of me, I can’t think of any good faith reason why you would use a “drug abuse” argument to deprive sick people of marijuana when they are trying to kick hard drugs like morphine, Vicodin and Oxycontin. It can only come down to money — more Drug War money for cops and prisons, more money for Big Pharma.

    CDC says more than 16,000 people a year die from accidental overdoses of prescription drugs, mostly Vicodin and Oxy. That’s a real drug abuse problem.


  9. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:29 am:

    Of course you generally do not buy your alcohol from the purveyors of heroin, meth and other dangerous illegal substances.

    Perhaps the chain of commerce is as much of the ‘gateway’ as the substance?


  10. - olddog - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:31 am:

    I don’t know if it’s a gateway drug or not, but what I will tell you, when people abuse heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, we routinely find they had a prior history of drinking milk. Does it go hand in hand? I don’t know. But we found it, and we’re still finding it.


  11. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    Thousands of drug arrests and drugs are still plentiful. That says a lot to me. It says to change strategy in dealing with the drug problem. It says the cliche but truth, that the drug war is lost. It reminds me of a statement I heard about the Vietnam War, that if we stayed there and fought it longer, we would have won. It is futility.

    Many who support drug legalization or decriminalization also want to combat the drug problem, but we want to do it in different ways. It’s like the debt problem. Just because we don’t support only budget cuts doesn’t mean we don’t care about the debt. We just want to solve it in different ways.


  12. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    ===Perhaps the chain of commerce is as much of the ‘gateway’ as the substance?===

    Ding ding ding. We have a winner. Excellent observation Pluto.


  13. - boat captain - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 11:20 am:

    Agree with wordslinger-as a person facing glaucoma in the future am watching this bill. I have never used it but would if it would help my symptons when it got to that point. Like he said-”follow the money”.


  14. - BIG R. Ph. - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    Here is the problem:

    How do ensure consistency? How do we know the strain that is grown hydroponically in Rockford is the same that is grown in the ground in Carbondale?

    How does anyone know that 5gm of Rockford is equivalent to 5gm of Carbondale?

    Also, just remember it is still a Class 1 narcotic via the federal government (DEA). And EACH transaction is a felony and they can go back as far as they want.

    So lets take for instance the following scenario. A “dispensing organization” makes 20 sales a day, 7 days a week for a year for 5 years. That is 51,000 transactions. When a new administration is elected (Not Mr. Weedhead Obama) they decide to start actually enforcing Federal Law. That is 51,000 federal felonies. That is a LONG prison sentence.


  15. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    - How does anyone know that 5gm of Rockford is equivalent to 5gm of Carbondale? -

    Science? And also, who really cares?

    - When a new administration is elected (Not Mr. Weedhead Obama) they decide to start actually enforcing Federal Law. That is 51,000 federal felonies. That is a LONG prison sentence. -

    If these folks are committed to providing relief to people, why is this your concern?


  16. Pingback Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » This just in… ISRA issues apology - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 1:48 pm:

    […] This just in… ISRA issues apology http://capitolfax.com/2013/05/09/this-just-in-isra-issues-apology/


  17. - Chris - Thursday, May 9, 13 @ 2:23 pm:

    ” EACH transaction is a felony and they can go back as far as they want.”

    Really? No SoL on federal distribution charges?

    [looking]

    Yeah, looks like the SoL is 5 years, unless charged under the Drug Kingpin statute (which it wouldn’t be).

    Also, the (partial, at least) intent in keeping the entirety of the commerce within the state is to have an argument that it is outside federal jurisdiction. Not sure (ok, really doubt) that would prevail, but it’s a decent argument.


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