Proposal To Legalize Medical Marijuana Stalls In Ill. House

UPDATED 11/30/10 – 12:46 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — An effort to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois has stalled in the General Assembly.

The Illinois House debated the measure in Springfield on Tuesday, but the main sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) pulled the proposal off the floor at the last minute when a vote came up just shy of the 60 votes needed for passage.

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House members had held an impassioned hour-long debate of the measure Tuesday afternoon.

The proposal, Senate Bill 1381, would allow Illinois residents to possess marijuana to treat the symptoms of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other illnesses, if the patient gets a note from their doctor stating they need to use marijuana.

Patients also would be required to get a license from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Medical marijuana could only be purchased at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and patients could purchase only three medical marijuana plants.

But critics fear the proposal would allow people to use marijuana for recreational purposes and say it doesn’t do enough to regulate the use of medical marijuana.

“In states that have legalized medical marijuana, evidence has shown us clearly that it is not about treating ailments and disorders, it is about making marijuana available,” State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Greenville), a licensed pharmacist. “This should be called the marijuana possession bill.”

But supporters say the measure would keep regulations in place to allow for the use of marijuana only for medical purposes. They say that traditional pain medications like codeine and oxycontin do not work for some people with AIDS, cancer and other diseases, while marijuana does work for some such patients.

“This bill is not about 16-year-olds looking to get a cheap quick high, this is about people who are in debilitating pain … looking for compassion, not a high; looking for relief, not a cheap high,” Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) said.

Opponents also argue that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and that allowing the use of medical marijuana would lead to the abuse of other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

But proponents said the “gateway drug” argument is hypocritical in a society where alcohol is legal.

“Alcohol is the biggest gateway drug there is and it’s legal,” said State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood).

  • Paulie C.

    Legalize it for all. It shouldn’t be a crime.

  • Lakeview Greg

    The gateway drug thing holds no water. For one, all this evidence that supposedly exists seems to be nothing more than anecdotal stories. Now, about prohibition. When prohibition ended, the per capita consumption of alcohol did rise a bit, but then it fell to levels below prohibition. And the levels have fallen ever since. Chances are that would be the result with marijuana legalization. Besides, you can take a huge chunk of gang monies away by legalizing and taxing. Legal marijuana would probably be cheaper in price than on the street. And better regulation would make it more difficult for kids to get their hands on it. There aren’t many booze dealers at school Chances are there wouldn’t be many dope dealers, either.

    Besides, it’s a plant, fer crying out loud. One of nature’s own.

  • P

    can your job still fire you for it?

  • Brian

    It’s a crime that so many people are cited and sometimes arrested for simple possesion. Alcohol has caused soooo many fatalities and injuries from overconsumption yet there’s still a huge controversy allowing chronically ill people in great pain to possess a few grams or plants to ease their suffering. Still, the state would sell it at outrageous prices and then wonder why few people are willing to spend what they’re asking since you can buy it cheaper anywhere else. So many people are really uptight about this. Make it legal for everyone. For christ’s sake, our economy could use the revenue.

  • Wayne F. Baker

    I am a 50 year old male who has served in the military in the early eighties, contracted the HCV virus and the military will not accept any responsibility for it ,saying that I have since engaged in “high risk behaivior” ie. tattoos and a history of drug abuse. i went through a cocaine and alcohol binge that lasted about 10 years. hardley ever smoked pot in my life. The HCV virus has me in constant agony, aches in all of my joints, chronic fatiuge with insomnia and i cannot take anything for pain orally because it will kill my liver and i will soon follow. I smoked pot one night last year with my wife, the first time in twenty five years and found that, first and formost, it helped me get a great nights sleep. I smoked again about a week later and found out that it takes the edge off of pain in my joints, especially my hands. After smoking again, i found out I was able to have a decent bowel movement, something I never thought would happen again and believe me, when you are 50 with HCV for 25 years, a good bowel movement is something to be proud of. The only problem is that I have a good job and they are aware that I have HCV but it is a drug free workplace. If i have a dirty urine test i will loose the best job i ever had. I am sure there are hundreds of people my age who could benifit from legalized medical mary jane. That gateway bull shouldnt be an issue as most of us have walked through those gates and back years ago. I see people come to work hung over and cant even do half of their job. I smoke the night before and I come to work well rested and ready to work. Someone out there needs to have some compassion for the people who stand to benifit the most from legalization and that is the person who needs it for legitimate medicine.

  • Helen

    I don’t think people realize that the way the Illinois bill reads anyone could grow and sell marijuana in the house next door. Or at the mall where kids shop. I don’t want anyone selling pot next door to me, do you? What about the huge administrative cost for running this program through the state? Where is that going to come from? The supporters would do better to pressure the FDA to finally get this through the testing and approval process and do this in a healthy way rather than put more people at risk to help a few.

  • Stu

    I am a 22 year old that suffers from myofascial pain syndrom and fibromyalgia (for 5 years now). These conditions make it unbelieveably hard to manage my life. I have been to over 13 doctors of every specialty that is imaginable in every hospital from milwaukee to chicago. I have been through every medication trial available; I stopped keeping a list after 20. The symptoms of my condition at its worst are disabling and painful beyond imagination. I saw on the National Geographic Channel show: Explorer: Marijuana: that a person with fibromyalgia talked to their doctor and moved to California to live just to get medical marijuana. It made a world of good change, not bad change. I would love to have the opportunity to properly obtain marijuana for treatment of my symptoms since it has been medically proven in the United States of America! that: A>Marijuana is a drug with medicinal properties. therefore should not be scheduled class one drug B> This substance has potential to improve lives and has been proven to be safe. After being tested on way more humans than any of these new drugs that get approved by the FDA every year and C> I would like for my doctor to have the choice to prescribe or reccomend Marijuana in the light that I may lead a fuller life.

    This drug is everywhere on the black market and I am not the kind of person who wants to find a “drug dealer” or “get high”. I am the kind of person who wants to consult a doctor in search of a new treatment… because millions suffer in America like me. everyday.

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