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Group Of Illinois Doctors Backs Medical Marijuana Legislation

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A budtender handles marijuana at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

A budtender handles marijuana at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

CBS Chicago (con't)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois lawmakers could vote on legislation to legalize medical marijuana this week, and a group of 250 doctors has urged them to support the measure.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the physicians have signed on as members of the “Marijuana Policy Project.”

Dr. Burak Emin Gezen, of Chicago, was among the doctors who have signed on to support medical marijuana legislation that would establish a pilot program to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes by patients with serious illnesses.

“They can be effective for pain. For some patients the … adjuncts that we have currently, opiates, they just don’t work,” she said.

Longtime multiple sclerosis patient Julie Falco said marijuana-laced cookies have helped her.

“I can’t even believe that this is being prevented from helping patients when they’ve lost other options. Who wouldn’t try something illegal if they’ve run out of options of things that they could try?” she said.

Falco said she contemplated suicide before learning marijuana could help her with the symptoms of her MS.

“I found enormous benefit right off the get-go. It calmed the leg spasticity. It helped with my bladder urgency. I wasn’t racing to the bathroom and wondering if I was going to fall down,” she said.

The physicians who have signed on to support medical marijuana said it should be up to doctors – not police or prosecutors – to decide whether marijuana is the right treatment for their patients.

They said those who benefit from medical marijuana should be able to obtain it safely and legally. They also said the laws should promote the doctor-patient relationship, not the dealer-patient relationship.

The legislation would make Illinois the 19th state to allow patients with certain conditions to use medical marijuana.

Last month, the chief sponsor of medical marijuana legislation in Illinois said he’ll push for a vote on the proposal this month. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said he believes the Illinois General Assembly is ready to approve a law allowing people with specific illnesses to use marijuana for medical reasons.

Opponents have said some people without serious medical conditions would use a medical marijuana law to obtain the drug for recreational use.

But Marijuana Policy Project deputy director Dan Riffle said the measure being considered in Illinois would not allow for that.

“Unlike California, you’re not going to be able to doctor shop. You’re not going to be able to walk into an office, pay $100, and leave five minutes later with a recommendation,” he said.

Lang has said his legislation would have the strictest regulations on medical marijuana of any state in the nation.

Anyone who obtained a medical marijuana ID card would be limited to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Conditions that would qualify a person to get medical marijuana would include cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, and more.

The legislation also would establish a network of cultivation centers and dispensaries.

The measure was approved by the House Human Services Committee on an 11-4 vote last month.

The full Illinois House could vote on the measure this week.

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