An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.
Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.
Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.
If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.
After "only" 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, MPP has finally succeeded at persuading the Illinois Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate approved the measure 35-21 Friday, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 on April 17.
If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. (New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing MPP's medical marijuana legislation, so it's a race to see which state will be first!)
The Associated Press reports:
“We are hopeful that Gov. Quinn will join legislators and the vast majority of Illinois voters in supporting this proposal,” [MPP's Dan] Riffle said. “Marijuana has proven medical benefits, regulating it works, and there is broad public and legislative support for doing it. This is a no-brainer.”
If the Illinois bill becomes law, as many as 60 retail establishments will be licensed to sell medical marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.
Gov. Quinn has made some positive comments about our bill, but we still don't know whether he'll sign it. Over the next few months, we must focus on ensuring that the governor sides with the forces of compassion and fiscal prudence, rather than the forces of fear and fiscal waste.