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Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Senate Committee in IllinoisSalem-News.com
A multiple sclerosis patient's testimony appears to have reached legislators.
(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) - For the second year in a row, members of the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee voted in favor of a medical marijuana bill, 6-4, after receiving written and oral testimony from medical professionals, patients, and policy experts today.
SB 2865, sponsored by Sens. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Donn E. Trotter (D-Chicago), both of whom serve as majority caucus whips, would protect seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation from the threat of arrest and jail.
The bill will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote. An identical bill, HB 5938, sponsored by Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-River Grove), has been introduced in the House and is expected to receive committee consideration soon.
Committee members heard testimony from multiple sclerosis patient and Illinois Drug Education and Legislative (IDEAL) Reform board member Julie Falco, of Chicago, as well as registered nurse and multiple sclerosis patient Gretchen Steele, of Coulterville.
Falco said medical marijuana relieved her painful symptoms much better than the more powerful, addictive medications doctors had prescribed her.
"As of today, I am off of all pharmaceutical medications and living a relatively active life," she said. "I believe that physicians, healthcare professionals, legislators and the public can come together on this issue – it is time to change our laws."
"Because our laws regarding medical marijuana are hopelessly out of step with what science, compassion and common sense tell us about this drug, countless suffering Illinoisans like Julie and Gretchen must choose between finding relief or obeying the law," Cullerton said.
"Passing this bill into law will ensure patients battling incapacitating pain – some for their very lives – have access to proven safe, effective medicine."
Experience in 12 other states with similar laws proves that Illinois can protect patients without hindering law enforcement efforts to fight illicit marijuana use, said Ray Warren, a former North Carolina legislator and superior court judge who now serves as the Marijuana Policy Project's director of state policies.
"Our first obligation should be ensuring that our laws don't prevent suffering patients from obtaining needed medicine – or make them criminals if they do," he said.
"We have learned that we can fulfill this moral duty with well-regulated programs designed to effectively prevent potential abuses."
For more information, visit: MarijuanaPolicy.org.
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