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To the Editor: Let doctors and patients decide about medical cannabis
Illinois medical cannabis patients are still considered criminals under Illinois law, although hopefully, this legislative session lawmakers in Springfield can find enough courage to grant doctors the legal right to recommend the medicine. New Jersey recently passed their medical cannabis bill, and their governor signed it into law shortly after, plus Washington, D.C.’s medical cannabis initiative that passed in 1998 finally will be going into effect this year. Illinois could be the 15th state to legally distinguish between medical use of cannabis and non-medical use if New York, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri or Wisconsin doesn’t beat us to it.
Medical cannabis is an odd issue for a couple of reasons. One is because lawmakers that favor limited government sometimes are against it because the FDA does not regulate cannabis. Medical cannabis should be reclassified on the federal level, the American Medical Association called for a review of its scheduling late last year, and the feds have essentially made it a states’ right issue. Plus, there are many vitamins and herbs that are not regulated by the FDA, such as St. John’s-wort, ginseng, etc. The fact that medical cannabis does not have the potential for an overdose fatality should be enough for it to be allowed, but many lawmakers fear the notorious “soft on crime” label.
Another oddity is that the law enforcement community has an unusually large voice in a health care issue. I suppose the law enforcement community is somehow fearful of the anarchic state that could be the result of letting chemotherapy patients and other sick people use medical cannabis. Police have no business deciding what medicine is best for a patient; that should be the right of the doctor and patient to decide.
All in all, Illinois needs to pass Senate Bill 1381 because patients are not criminals.
Illinois Cannabis Patients Association
From the Mar. 3-9, 2010 issue