By Steve Elliott
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn should veto medical marijuana legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly earlier this year -- that is, if you believe the Chicago Crime Commission.
The commission said this week that legalizing medicinal cannabis would "present serious public safety risks to the citizens of the state." Members of the commission apparently haven't bothered to read recent studies showing rates of both fatal automobile crashes and suicides fall in states which have legalized medical marijuana.
Gov. Quinn has said he is "open minded" on medical marijuana, but hasn't committed to sign the legislation.
Crime Commission executive director Joe Ways claimed he amount of medical marijuana patients would be allowed to have would be too high, despite the fact that it is far less than the amount allowed in states such as Washington, Oregon and California.
"Allowing each card holder 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks will provide a surplus of marijuana that will undoubtedly find its way into the wrong hands and have significant law enforcement implications," Ways claimed.
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
Yesterday, the Illinois Senate voted 35-21 in favor of an historic bill that would allow people with certain ailments to use cannabis to ease their symptoms, if recommended by their doctor.
The bill, HB 1, which would allow Illinois residents with qualifying conditions the right to obtain 2.5 ounces every two weeks from a licensed dispensary, is expected to be signed by an "open-minded" Governor Quinn.
"We are embarking here on a way to achieve relief, compassionate relief, consistent with the law (with) a system which avoids abuse," according to the bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Bill Haine of Alton. "It's the tightest, most controlled legislative initiative in the United State related to medical cannabis."
"This is about individuals that are having a difficult time finding solutions to their cancer pains, that are finding other solutions and are going to the black market buying it anyway. We must find these solutions," Senator William Delgado, 2nd Legislative District (D), proclaimed on the Senate floor.
Proponents say cannabis can relieve continual pain without detrimental side effects of other pharmaceutical drugs.
Our farmers need this valuable crop to be returned as an option for commercial agriculture
By D. Paul Stanford, Hemp News Director
Hemp is the ultimate cash crop, producing more fiber, food and oil than any other plant on the planet. According to the Notre Dame University publication, The Midlands Naturalist, from a 1975 article called, "Feral Hemp in Southern Illinois," about the wild hemp fields that annual efforts from law enforcement eradication teams cannot wipe out, an acre of hemp produces:
1. 8,000 pounds of hemp seed per acre.
* When cold-pressed, the 8,000 pounds of hemp seed yield over 300 gallons of hemp seed oil and a byproduct of
* 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp flour.
These seed oils are both a food and a biodiesel fuel. Currently, the most productive seed oil crops are soybeans, sunflower seeds and rape seed or canola. Each of these three seed oil crops produce between 100 to 120 gallons of oil per acre. Hemp seed produces three times more oil per acre than the next most productive seed oil crops, or over 300 gallons per acre, with a byproduct of 3 tons of food per acre. Hemp seed oil is also far more nutritious and beneficial for our health than any other seed oil crop.
In addition to the food and oil produced, there are several other byproducts and benefits to the cultivation of hemp.
2. Six to ten tons per acre of hemp bast fiber. Bast fiber makes canvas, rope, lace, linen, and ultra-thin specialty papers like cigarette and bible papers.
By Steve Elliott
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon on Sunday said she supports a bill allowing the medicinal use of cannabis, explaining that testimony from seriously ill veterans and other medical marijuana patients helped to change her mind.
"As a former prosecutor my first reaction was, 'I'm not interested in changing our laws on medical marijuana,' " Lt. Gov. Simon told The Associated Press in a Sunday interview.
But after hearing from patients and reading up on the bill -- described as the strictest in the nation among medical marijuana states -- Simon said she is convinced the regulations are stringent enough.
The bill, which has cleared the Illinois House and awaits a Senate vote, would let physicians authorize patients with whom they have "an existing relationship" to use medicinal marijuana for more than 30 medical conditions, including cancer.
A pilot program would be created; patients and caregivers would be required to undergo background checks and would be limited to 2.5 ounces per patient per purchase from state-regulated dispensaries.
By Steve Elliott
A bill which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Illinois cleared a key Senate committee vote on Wednesday.
The medical marijuana bill was approved on a 10-5 vote by the Senate Executive Committee late Wednesday night, reports Monique Garcia at the Chicago Tribune.
The bill was approved over the objections of members of the law enforcement community, who claimed the bill wouldn't prevent medical marijuana patients from driving while under the influence of cannabis. (Statistics from states where medical marijuana is legal has shown they have fewer fatal auto accidents than before medicinal cannabis laws were passed.)
The bill now goes to the full Senate, which approved similar legislation in 2009. The proposal already cleared the Illinois House last month, and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he is "open minded" on the subject.
By Steve Elliott
Two major law enforcement organizations in Illinois claim that DUI rules in a pending medical marijuana bill are not strict enough.
The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association on Wednesday sent a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and other state officials asking for tougher marijuana DUI safeguards, reportes The Associated Press.
The letter didn't mention the rather pertinent fact that according to one major study, states that have legalized medical marijuana see fewer fatal car accidents.
Medical marijuana laws were not significantly linked with changes in daytime crash rates, or those that didn't involve alcohol, according to the study.
Illinois' medical marijuana bill is scheduled for a Senate hearing on Wednesday. The idea has won approval in the Senate in past years, but police opposition could be a hurdle for this year's bill.
Religious leader, former narcotics officer, and physician scheduled to testify in support of House-approved measure that would allow people with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it
By Steve Elliott
The Illinois Senate Executive Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday at 3 p.m. on a bill that would allow residents with serious illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to access and use medical marijuana if their physicians recommend it. If approved, the measure will be considered by the full Senate. It received approval from the full House of Representatives on April 17.
Rev. Alexander Sharp, executive director emeritus of Protestants for the Common Good; former narcotics police officer Karen Stone of Glenarm; Dr. David Walters of Mt. Vernon; and a Somonauk-based military veteran with advanced multiple sclerosis are scheduled to testify in support of House Bill 1, which is sponsored in the Senate by former state’s attorney Sen. William Haine (D-Alton).
The measure has been endorsed by the Illinois Nurses Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, and since last month, more than 265 doctors from across the state have signed on to a statement in support of safe access to medical marijuana for patients with serious illnesses.
By Steve Elliott
A group of doctors on Tuesday at a news conference announced the support of nearly 250 Illinois physicians for allowing patients with serious illnesses to get and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
"For many patients, the treatment can sometimes be worse than the disease," said Dr. Margaret Millar of Moline, one of the endorsing physicians. "Having seen the devastating, and all-too-often lethal tollthat legally prescribed narcotics can take, I support medical marijuana as a safer, milder treatment that carries no risk of fatal overdose."
The doctors specifically signed on the following statement:
"Licensed medical practitioners should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people, and seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if their medical professionals have told them that such use is likely to be beneficial."
The Illinois House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on House Bill 1, which would make Illinois the 19th state the allow patients with certain conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians.
It would also establish a network of state-regulated cultivation centers and dispensaries to provide marijuana to qualified patients.
By Steve Elliott
A bill to allow Illinois residents to use medical marijuana in the treatment of their debilitating medical conditions moved one step closer to becoming law on Wednesday when it was approved 11-4 by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now heads to the full 118-member House of Representatives.
House Bill 1, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), a friend to medical marijuana patients for years, would allow people suffering from specific medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS to use medicinal cannabis if their doctors recommend it.
Qualified patients would be able to get marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries, which would acquire the cannabis from up to 22 cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation would control the cultivation, acquisition, and distribution of marijuana.
By Steve Elliott
A Texas man who was caught with 73 pounds of marijuana in Douglas County, Illinois, three years ago was sentenced last week to 24 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
A jury had convicted Antonio Sustaita, 39, of Beeville, Texas, of marijuana trafficking, possession with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana after the cannabis was found in the pickup truck in which he was a passenger, reports the East Central Illinois News Gazette.
The truck was stopped on I-57 north of Arcola by Illinois State Police on February 4, 2010, because it had a cracked windshield "and an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror." (Did you know they could list an air freshener as "probable cause"?)
A drug dog alerted on odors coming from the back of the truck, and the cops searched it, finding that the gas tank had been modified and held 42 bricks of cannabis.
In addition to the 24-year prison sentence, Judge Mike Carroll ordered Sustaita to pay a street value fine of $60,000 and a $3,000 mandatory assessment.
Because of the amount of marijuana involved, Sustaita could have gotten up to 60 years in prison.
By L.E. Hlavach
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House sponsor of prior efforts to legalize medicinal use of marijuana has already renewed efforts in the new General Assembly.
A medical marijuana bill was the first House legislation introduced Wednesday in the new legislative session. It is sponsored by state Rep. Louis Lang, D-Skokie.
“We have a new General Assembly, new people, new thoughts, new views of these issues,” Lang said Thursday. “We have national polls showing that the vast majority of Americans think people ought to have a product that their doctor thinks they ought to have.”
Lang said medical marijuana “is less controversial now that 19 other states have approved it and two other states have said that marijuana is legal for all purposes.”
“The idea that we would approve marijuana to help very sick people feel better should not be as controversial as it is,” he said.
Under the proposed law, certain patients could obtain medical-grade marijuana from state-regulated dealers for use in their homes.
Lang has been trying for four years to get approval for a medical marijuana law in Illinois.
In the past, Republicans led the charge to kill the legislation.
Lang said the House nearly approved the proposal last session, and he seemed optimistic about the chance of passage this time.
Over the past several years, sixteen states have passed pro-hemp farming legislation, so why are Illinois lawmakers working against the farmer?
By Michael, Hemp News Correspondent
Last month, because of years of festering propagandist lies, the Illinois House of Representatives voted against mid-west farmers and their right to grow a viable rotation crop (HB1383 - Illinois Industrial Hemp Act). The bill, which passed a House Agriculture and Conservation Committee by a vote of 11-2 earlier in the same week, would have licensed: individuals desiring to grow, process, cultivate, harvest, possess, sell, or purchase industrial hemp or industrial hemp related products. In many cases, an alternative rotation crop, such as hemp, could possibly save the multi-generational farms from foreclosure.
"The fiber from industrial hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers known, and it is present in bundles that surround the main stem. Industrial hemp fiber applications include uses in textiles, cordage, construction materials, paper products, and bio-composite plastics," according to Donald P. Briskin, Professor of Plant Biochemistry/Physiology, Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.
By MyFox Chicago Staff
Chicago - Lawmakers in Springfield turned down a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana Thursday.
Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. currently allow marijuana to be allowed for medical use, but in Illinois, that won't be happening anytime soon.
The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Lou Lang from Skokie. It was narrowly defeated by four votes in the House Thursday.
Supporters of the bill say it would have provided much relief for people suffering from AIDS or other chronic diseases to help them with pain relief and help them regain an appetite, which would also make them feel better.
By Ray Long and Monique Garcia, Chicago Tribune
SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois House today defeated a measure that would have allowed people to use marijuana for relief of chronic pain.
The medical marijuana bill got 53 votes, but needed 60 to pass. Another 59 lawmakers voted against it, and one voted present.
Sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, argued the measure was aimed at giving people in pain a better quality of life, particularly after doctors have tried multiple medications that have not helped a person suffering from a debilitating illnesses.
“There are people who need our help,” Lang said, pointing to the House gallery, where people with chronic illnesses watched in hopes of passage.
Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Troy, a pharmacist, argued the legislation does not provide enough regulation.
“This should be called the marijuana possession law,” Stephens said. “It doesn’t restrict the use in any one way.”
Votes could come soon
By ANDREW GREINER, NBC
Illinois could become the 15th state to allow medical marijuana if everything goes State Representative Lou Lang’s way.
Lang (D-Skokie) is the chief sponsor of a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to chronically ill patients in lieu of narcotics like Oxycontin and Vicodin. Patients who receive the prescription and garner state licensing could own up to three plants under the proposed legislation, according to WBBM.
"It requires them to get a license from the Illinois Dept. of Public health, which would monitor and license each person, and it provides strict penalties for those who break the law, or use the marijuana and drive, or try to sell it or distribute it," Lang said.
Lang told WBBM that more than 90 members of the Illinois House support the bill privately, but nearly 40 of them don’t want to vote for it because of the political fallout.
Representative Lang says he is waiting for the right time to call the bill to the floor for a vote. He said Speaker Michael Madigan promised to call for a vote if Lang can gather the votes.
If it passes the house – it already passed the senate about 10 months ago – indications are that Governor Pat Quinn would sign the measure.
Dr. Quentin Young the Illinois Public Health Advocate and Quinn's personal physician supports the measure.
"The medical profession has no controversy on this, to speak of," Dr. Young said.