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Illinois Approves Bill on Medical Marijuana
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On Friday, the Illinois Senate approved the use of medical marijuana after a vote. If signed into law, Illinois would become the second most populous state in the nation to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill was initially approved by the Illinois House in the month of April and now awaits the signature of the Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, who is known to be in favor of the measure.

Illinois Senate Republicans strongly opposed the measure on assumptions that medical marijuana would become a “gateway drug” leading to further substance abuse.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia already permit the legal use of medical marijuana with some states also permitting smoking marijuana for recreational purposes.

  
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The Senate vote resulted 35-21 after a debate that stretched more than an hour.

The sponsor of the bill, Democratic State Senator Bill Haine, a former county prosecutor, said that doctor’s groups had already endorsed the bill, and it was one of the toughest bills in the nation concerning the use of medical marijuana.

The law would allow patients to purchase an amount limited to 2.5 ounces every fortnight, and the marijuana so purchased cannot be used in public or in front of minors and would need to be kept in a closed container. The marijuana also has to be produced within the state of Illinois.

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Referring to painkillers that were frequently abused, Haines said, “It is a substance which is much more benign than 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.”

However, opponents of the measure maintain that the potential negative consequences of smoking marijuana could be greater than its benefits.



The Illinois bill proposes a four-year pilot program in which patients diagnosed with any one of 33 medical conditions identified as debilitating would be allowed medical marijuana use. Medical conditions in the list obviously include conditions and diseases like multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and cancer. Patients who seek the use of medical marijuana would need to obtain the written certification from their physicians and would need to register themselves with the state health department.



 

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