The Illinois General Assembly passed the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Act yesterday during a whirlwind last day of its regular legislative session. If signed into law, SB 336 would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the medical cannabis program. It also dramatically improves current law by streamlining wait times and removing fingerprint requirements for patients.
This bill would provide welcome relief to thousands who need a safer alternative to harmful opioid drugs. For a summary written by bill supporters — including key changes to background checks and shortened approval process — click here. The final bill draft language is here.
A huge shout-out goes to the medical cannabis community, the warriors who worked so hard to make it happen, and primary bill sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and co-sponsors for their leadership and support. Thousands of lives could improve as a result.
But without the governor’s signature, it won’t become a reality. Gov. Rauner has 60 days from the day he receives it to sign or veto the measure, and he needs to hear from you. If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support for the measure with the governor’s office.
The Illinois House of Representatives may soon vote on SB 336, which would allow those who could be prescribed opioid drugs to qualify for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Last month, the Senate passed the measure by a wide margin, but its future in the House is less certain.
While opioids can be highly addictive and dangerous, many seriously ill patients across the country are opting for a safer alternative. Medical cannabis has emerged as an effective option for hundreds of thousands of patients around the U.S. Yet, Illinois’ medical cannabis law does not include pain as a qualifying condition. It’s past time to allow patients to use cannabis instead of opiate-based medications.
Another bill which would also provide patients welcome relief passed both chambers and is now on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. If signed, HB 4870 would allow students who are registered patients to access medical cannabis at school under certain circumstances. While limited, it is an important improvement to ensure patients do not have to choose between their health and their education. If you are an Illinois resident, call Gov. Rauner at (217) 782-0244 and ask him to sign this important bill into law.
In an interview with WSIL-TV in Marion yesterday, Gov. Bruce Rauner officially announced his opposition to ending the harmful policy of cannabis prohibition in Illinois. The governor wrongly claimed we don’t yet know the effects of legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use, despite significant data available from states like Washington and Colorado, which both ended prohibition five years ago.
By announcing his stance, the governor is saying no to new jobs and to hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) in much-needed revenue for the state, and saying yes to allowing criminal enterprises to continue their control of a thriving and unregulated market. An estimated 750,000 Illinoisans consume marijuana monthly despite its prohibition — consumers who will likely continue to make illicit purchases whether it’s regulated or not. That money should go to our state and not into the pockets of drug cartels.
Chicago is one of the U.S. cities most closely associated with the failure of prohibition policies, and today, violence and harm continue on its streets. Instead of perpetuating a system that contributes to crime, revenue from taxing marijuana could be used to help prevent it.
Please make sure everyone in your network knows about Gov. Rauner’s misguided position. If you are an Illinois resident, please send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults.
Now that most state legislative sessions are over for the year, MPP's Rob Kampia has published a list of the biggest victories in what is already the biggest year on record for marijuana policy reformers!
On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.
In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.
Illinois Gov. Rauner just signed SB 2228, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana everywhere in Land of Lincoln. The change in the law is effective immediately.
Illinoisans or visitors found in possession of marijuana are no longer subject to arrest or jail time. The change also removes the possibility of a harmful criminal record for cannabis possession, which can last a lifetime. Instead, those found in possession would face a simple fine of between $100 and $200.
Previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 Illinois communities had already removed local criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.
This change comes from MPP’s multi-year effort to help bring fairness to the state’s possession law. Even though many cities and towns had already lowered penalties, but individuals could still be arrested and charged for possession under state law. This change moves the state away from its former patchwork system.
Illinois is now the 21st state in the nation, in addition to the District of Columbia, to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.
We wish to thank bill sponsors Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for their strong advocacy for a better system. Their tireless effort on behalf of fairness made this law a reality.
On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate approved a key bill that would change the sunset date on the state’s medical cannabis program from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2020. The House approved the bill on Monday. The final votes on SB 10 capped off a whirlwind effort by lawmakers in the closing days of the 2016 session.
In addition to extending the program by two and a half years, SB 10 would allow patients with post-traumatic stress disorder or a terminal illness to qualify for medical cannabis. It would also allow doctors to simply state that a patient has a qualifying condition, rather than recommend cannabis. Finally, SB 10 would change the process for petitioning to add medical conditions and modify the composition of the advisory board.
The vote was over a year in the making, and while the measure passed both chambers by a wide margin, its success was far from certain. Special thanks go to Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who both worked hard to gain critical support from lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner. Thanks also go to the many supporters and patients who reached out to lawmakers.
Once received, Gov. Rauner will have 60 days to sign the bill into law. SB 10 is available here.
The Illinois House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove criminal penalties for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in a vote of 64-50. The bill — SB 2228 — will now be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, represents a historic change in Illinois. Instead of arresting and jailing people in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, those found in possession would simply pay a fine of up to $200. Perhaps more importantly, people would not be stuck with harmful criminal records for the rest of their lives.
This bill is a huge improvement over the current law, which is costly, harmful, and applied unequally around the state. In fact, well over 100 local communities have already lowered criminal penalties. In many respects, SB 2228 simply makes the law more consistent.
Once the governor officially receives the bill, he will have up to 60 days to sign it into law. It reflects changes he requested last year in an amendatory veto, so we are optimistic it will become law.
Despite a recommendation from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner decided not to add eight medical conditions to the state's medical cannabis pilot program. This is the second time his health department has turned down expanding the list of qualifying conditions.
The petition included four pain syndromes and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The first time Gov. Rauner’s health department rejected new conditions, the governor noted that the program was not yet fully up and running. However, now that dispensaries have opened in Illinois, that reasoning no longer applies. The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board reviewed relevant studies and heard testimony from patients who could find relief if their conditions were added to the program.
Adding qualifying conditions would significantly improve the state program. The medical cannabis program recognizes only a narrow range of conditions, and Illinois is one of very few medical marijuana states that excludes patients with serious pain.
Flanked by leaders in the faith community, Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy today announced a new decriminalization bill last week for the 2016 session, HB 4357. Rep. Cassidy has long worked to establish a more just approach to marijuana possession in Illinois, and this new bill gives lawmakers and the governor a chance to quickly pass a bill they both agree would improve the lives of thousands of Illinoisans.
While both Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature agreed that arrest and jail should be replaced with civil penalties, Gov. Rauner wanted some changes to the legislation approved by the General Assembly. After he issued an amendatory veto, attention turned to the state budget during the latter half of the year. HB 4357 picks up where the previous bill left off.
Currently, possession laws in Illinois are harsh and unfair. Not only can a person be arrested, jailed, and fined large amounts of money for simple possession, people of color are also far, far more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts. It’s past time for state law to change and apply equally to all residents.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken an important step on a bill that would help thousands of Illinoisans avoid arrest, jail, and harmful criminal convictions for the possession of a personal amount of marijuana. The governor has used his authority to amend several key provisions of HB 218 and is sending it back to the legislature for another vote.
If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to ask your state legislators to vote in support of the amended bill.
Time is incredibly short: The legislature has just a few weeks to vote on the amended bill and is only meeting on a few of those days. The amended bill is not perfect, but it would vastly improve current law. It would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, including arrest, jail, huge fines, and a damaged criminal record. The bill would impose a fine of up to $200 — instead of the thousands of dollars possible today. Finally, the bill makes critical improvements to current DUI laws, which today can lead to a conviction even when a person hasn’t consumed marijuana for weeks before driving.
If this bill is not approved by the legislature with the governor’s changes, Illinois’ marijuana consumers will continue to face arrest, jail time, and shockingly unequal enforcement of the law.