SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Medical cannabis patients and advocates lobbied elected officials at the Illinois State Capitol Nov. 27 in an attempt to become the 19th state to legalize the plant for medicinal purposes.
Lawmakers in Illinois have previously debated this issue, and after the recent votes in Colorado and Washington to legalize cannabis (herbal cannabinoids), there is hope Illinois can join the list of those allowing doctors to recommend its use by patients.
“This legislation has been drafted and revised with every intention of protecting patients from arrest and giving law enforcement the tools needed to ensure it won’t be abused,” said Dan Linn, executive director of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Over the years, we’ve amended these bills and changed them trying to appease lawmakers, but have never been able to get enough votes to change the actual law. It has taken us so long to get this through that our original sponsor years ago, a former sheriff, State Rep. Larry McKeon, has since passed away due to complications of cancer and AIDS. He was the first openly gay member of the legislature, and he helped get this bill off the ground.”
Lawmakers will be considering House Bill 30, The Illinois Compassionate Use Act. The bill would create a pilot program for three years, allow doctors to recommend cannabis for very specific conditions and create 59 nonprofit establishments for patients to acquire their medicine. Unlike other states that have legalized cannabis for patients and their caregivers, this bill would not allow them to grow their medicine.
Patients participating in the Nov. 27 rally in Springfield educated lawmakers about the benefits of herbal cannabinoid therapeutics and met with lawmakers before they went into their fall veto session.
Ali Nagib, Illinois NORML’s assistant director, noted the importance of being active: “If people cannot make it to Springfield but want to help, they should call their State Representative and Senator. It is also helpful to let the governor know how important this is.”
The Capitol Switchboard phone number is (217) 782-2000, and an operator can connect supporters to elected officials.
From the Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2012, issue