For the second year in a row, members of the Illinois Senate
Public Health Committee voted in favor of a medical marijuana bill, 6-4, after
receiving written and oral testimony from medical professionals, patients, and
policy experts today.
SB 2865, sponsored by Sens. John Cullerton
(D-Chicago) and Donn E. Trotter (D-Chicago), both of whom serve as majority
caucus whips, would protect seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana
with a doctor’s recommendation from the threat of arrest and jail.
bill will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote. An identical bill, HB
5938, sponsored by Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-River Grove), has been introduced in
the House and is expected to receive committee consideration
Committee members heard testimony from multiple sclerosis patient
and Illinois Drug Education and Legislative (IDEAL) Reform board member Julie
Falco, of Chicago, as well as registered nurse and multiple sclerosis patient
Gretchen Steele, of Coulterville.
Falco said medical marijuana relieved
her painful symptoms much better than the more powerful, addictive medications
doctors had prescribed her.
"As of today, I am off of all pharmaceutical
medications and living a relatively active life," she said. "I believe that
physicians, healthcare professionals, legislators and the public can come
together on this issue – it is time to change our laws."
laws regarding medical marijuana are hopelessly out of step with what science,
compassion and common sense tell us about this drug, countless suffering
Illinoisans like Julie and Gretchen must choose between finding relief or
obeying the law," Cullerton said.
"Passing this bill into law will ensure
patients battling incapacitating pain – some for their very lives – have access
to proven safe, effective medicine."
Experience in 12 other states with
similar laws proves that Illinois can protect patients without hindering law
enforcement efforts to fight illicit marijuana use, said Ray Warren, a former
North Carolina legislator and superior court judge who now serves as the
Marijuana Policy Project’s director of state policies.
obligation should be ensuring that our laws don’t prevent suffering patients
from obtaining needed medicine – or make them criminals if they do," he
"We have learned that we can fulfill this moral duty with
well-regulated programs designed to effectively prevent potential
Brandy Zink, LMT
President Ohio Patient
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