The Illinois general election is around the corner


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The Illinois general election takes place on November 6. It’s fast approaching, and voters this year will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in Illinois. Lawmakers continue to look closely at ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and over, and the differences between the two major party candidates for governor couldn’t be bigger on this issue: JB Pritzker (D) has come out in strong support of legalizing and regulating marijuana, while Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) remains opposed.

Take a minute to check out our Illinois Voter Guide and see where the candidates on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. Not all the candidates have a voting history on cannabis bills in the state House or Senate, but for those that do, we’ve summarized the voting record on key cannabis-related bills over the past several years.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you have until October 21 to register online. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

In nearby Michigan, voters will have an opportunity to legalize marijuana themselves. But in Illinois, there’s no citizen initiative process, so only lawmakers can end the wasteful and cruel policy of prohibition. This year’s elections will likely have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in Illinois. Now is the time for voters who support a better path for Illinois to make their voice heard.

 

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New poll on the Michigan legalization campaign


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A new poll shows the Michigan marijuana legalization campaign ahead with 56% support. While we remain cautiously optimistic about success on Election Day, we are not out of the woods yet.

A well-funded opposition campaign could still emerge. If that happens, we would likely see misleading TV and online ads telling voters that legalization has failed in Colorado, California, and beyond.

The Michigan campaign needs resources in order to present voters with the facts on this issue: prohibition has proven to be an utter failure and legalization policies are working effectively in other states.

There are just 55 days until Election Day. I know you get many such requests, but will you make a $20 donation today to support legalization in Michigan?

Michigan is a very important campaign for these reasons:

– Michigan would be the first state in the Midwest to legalize, putting pressure on nearby states including Illinois and Ohio;
– Michigan would become the second most populous state in the country to fully legalize marijuana; and
– A victory in Michigan would further increase pressure on Congress to pass federal reform in 2019.

This November, let’s make Michigan the 10th state to legalize marijuana.

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Illinois governor signs opioid alternative bill, making huge improvements to medical cannabis program


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Sweeping changes include medical cannabis access for opioid patients, streamlined process, and others

Illinois’s medical cannabis program took a major step forward today as Gov. Bruce Rauner signed bill SB 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act, into law.

This historic change makes several key improvements:

Opioid patients now qualify. Patients who are — or could be — prescribed opioid drugs will be able to register to obtain medical cannabis as an alternative.

Shorter wait times. Patients will get provisional authorization to access medical cannabis as soon as their paperwork is submitted for registration — saving weeks of wait time.

No more fingerprint requirement! Patients and caregivers will no longer be required to submit fingerprints to register for the program, and those with felony convictions in their past will no longer be denied access to the program.

Many thanks go to bill sponsors Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and the many medical cannabis patients and supporters who worked to pass this major improvement to state law. The full text of the measure is here.

In other news, if you are in the neighborhood, the public is invited to tonight’s town hall on cannabis legalization for adults in La Grange, Illinois.

When: Tuesday, August 28 7:00 p.m.

Where: La Grange Village Hall Auditorium, 53 S. La Grange Road, La Grange, Illinois

Who: Bill sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Jim Durkin, and several other panelists

Another big win for medical cannabis patients today — please spread the word! And if you can, come to tonight’s town hall and support a sensible legalization law in Illinois!

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Illinois students get relief, but opioid patients still waiting on governor


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Students in Illinois who require access to medical cannabis during school hours were granted relief earlier in August, when Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Ashley’s Law into law. This marked a major step forward for patients, including the new law’s namesake, Ashley Surin, who sought access to help manage her seizure condition. Another bill, which would allow those prescribed opioids to qualify for the state program, is still awaiting the governor’s signature.

The governor only has until August 28 to sign, amend, or reject the bill.

The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Act, which passed on May 31, not only allows 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. 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.

Gov. Rauner needs to hear from those who support this important change. If you are an Illinois resident, please click here to send an email message to his office.

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Illinois lawmakers pass major improvement to medical cannabis program, now on to the governor


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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.

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Illinois: Two medical marijuana improvement bills are on the move


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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.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to voice your support with your lawmaker today.

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.

 

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Illinois Senate Approves a Safer Option for Opioid Patients


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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.

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MPP’s Illinois Primary Voter Guide


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Primary Election Day happens tomorrow in Illinois, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers are now considering legislation to end marijuana prohibition and legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. Illinoisans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Illinois Voter’s Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

While elected officials are more supportive of legalization than ever before, we want momentum to build, and this year’s elections will have a big impact both in the legislature and in the governor’s office. It’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Illinois.

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Illinois Bill Would Allow Patients to Substitute Medical Marijuana for Opiates


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Illinois State Sen. Dan Harmon is championing a bill that would allow individuals who are prescribed opioids to qualify for access to medical cannabis. His bill, SB 336, is expected to receive a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Executive Committee.

Hundreds of thousands of people are prescribed opioids in Illinois. These drugs carry a very high risk of dependency, and they can cause significant long-term harm including the risk of overdose death. Medical cannabis is now providing relief around the country and reducing incidents of drug ovedose deaths where it is available. But Illinois is one of only three medical marijuana states where pain patients don’t qualify, unless they have a specifically listed disease.

This bill would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions. It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day.

If you are an Illinois resident, please tell your senator to support SB 336 and vote “yes” if it is placed before the senator for a vote.

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Illinois Vows to Ignore Court Decision to Add Chronic Pain to Qualifying Conditions


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A court in Cook County, Illinois ruled last week that the Illinois Department of Public Health must add intractable pain as a qualifying condition to the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. Incredibly, the state has vowed to appeal the ruling and continue to shut pain patients out of the state program.

This is an outrage. A MoveOn.org petition is circulating that allows supporters to voice their opposition to the misguided decision by the state. If you agree the state should add intractable pain and want the state to drop its appeal plans, click here.

Patients and advocates have been working to add the condition to the state program since it went into effect in 2015. A panel of doctors and experts charged with considering new conditions voted unanimously to add pain, yet the health department refused to listen.

Even after a court reached the same conclusion, the health department continues to push back and deny access. As the nation struggles to bring a deadly opioid epidemic under control, medical cannabis should be an option for those who seek a safer alternative. Patients in Illinois should not be encouraged to seek relief from the underground market, when a regulated and tested alternative is available.

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