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home : news : news   May 24, 2016

12/1/2012 6:00:00 AM
Marijuana proposal sparks up controversy
Medical-marijuana bill has support - but not from La Salle County prosecutor

Can you picture legalized marijuana on the shelf of your medicine cabinet? The Illinois General Assembly is believed to be close to a vote on a measure, House Bill 30, that would allow so-called “medicinal marijuana” and make Illinois the 20th state (counting the District of Columbia) to legally permit cannabis in some fashion.NewsTribune graphic illustration/Anthony Soufflé
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Can you picture legalized marijuana on the shelf of your medicine cabinet? The Illinois General Assembly is believed to be close to a vote on a measure, House Bill 30, that would allow so-called “medicinal marijuana” and make Illinois the 20th state (counting the District of Columbia) to legally permit cannabis in some fashion.
NewsTribune graphic illustration/Anthony Soufflé
Matthew Baker and Tom Collins

Medical marijuana may be headed back to the table in Springfield next week.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) has been gathering support for a measure (House Bill 30) that would create a three-year pilot program to temporarily legalize medical marijuana, The Associated Press reported.

Lang told The Associated Press on Wednesday he’s still not certain he has the 60 votes he needs for passage and won’t call HB 30 until next week. He plans to use the weekend to reach “a whole bunch of people who are wavering” and drum up support for a vote in the Legislature’s second week of its fall session.

With 18 states and the District of Columbia now allowing the use of medical marijuana — and two states, Washington and Colorado, recently approving the use of recreational marijuana — the time may be right for passage in Illinois, Lang told The AP.

While some state legislators may be willing to support the controversial bill, state Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) said he remains opposed.

“State’s attorneys, law enforcement have concerns about the bill, as well,” Mautino said.

Mautino said he believes the bill as drafted may be too lenient regarding who would cultivate marijuana for medical usage.

“It’s a little shaky for my thinking,” he said.

Similarly, if Lang gets the 60 votes he needs to pass the bill out of the House, state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said she would vote against it in the Senate.

“I just don’t think legalizing a drug is a way, as they’re putting it, to create jobs,” she said.

Mautino believes Lang may bring the bill up for a vote next week or else in early January.

The AP reported that the bill, if passed, would be the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the nation, said Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., a group that tracks legislation and supports legalizing marijuana and regulating the drug like alcohol.

Restrictive or not, some in law enforcement foresee only trouble if HB 30 becomes law.

La Salle County state’s attorney Brian Towne said he has long opposed legalization in any form and said even well-intentioned lawmakers would be in for a rude awakening if they approve the measure.

“This will be a gateway to disaster,” Towne said. “We have seen devastating effects in this office with people sharing prescription drugs, and I see no reason to think things would be any different with legalized marijuana — given how bad illegal use is already.”

The measure “would create a system in which patients could only acquire their medicine from licensed and regulated nonprofit dispensaries, and home cultivation is not permitted,” Fox said in an e-mail to The AP. “The qualifying conditions are extremely narrow compared to other states and are explicit, as opposed to some states that include provisions for more generalized symptoms.”

As the Illinois bill is written, patients would have to get written certification from their regular doctor and be diagnosed with one of about 30 medical conditions, which include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, “agitation of Alzheimer’s disease” and several pain syndromes. Also on the list: fibromyalgia, a condition with an unknown cause and a lack of definitive tests, and nail-patella syndrome, a rare inherited disorder that can cause pain while walking, according to The AP.

Lang told The AP the list of conditions wasn’t built strictly on medical evidence, but also from conversations with patients and doctors — anecdotal information about marijuana helping with symptoms.

“If it were fully up to me, I would leave it up to a doctor, but California has made a mess of their medical marijuana law” allowing people with vague symptoms to obtain the drug, Lang said.

Rezin also said she has seen the California model at work and while she’s “sympathetic” to those with conditions that could benefit from medical marijuana, she believes it generally is just used as an excuse to obtain marijuana legally.

If the bill passes in the House, it would go to the Senate where another, less restrictive bill passed in 2010. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has been a longtime supporter of efforts to decriminalize medical marijuana, said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon to The AP.

Matthew Baker can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Article comment by: METALWORKER

I am confused. Someone who is not a POTHEAD please explain howthis drug,and it is a drug, can be made, by a simple majority of a congressional vote or a vote of the public be deemed to be safe.
What is the job of the FDA? Is it not to test drugs and foods to make sure that they will cause little or no harm? Is it not? If it is , did they test this drug? If they did, where is the report.
How can anyone say that using is a victomless crime. Ask the children and spouce of users if they are not victims.
Before you say that it is safer than booze, let me say that I think that any one who sells the stuff to a minior, abuser,and a just plain mean drunk should be punished to the full extent of the law. Their lic. to sell or distrb. any achaholic bev. should be revoked and they be made to sign a roster..Any one who grew up in a home with an abuser or user can tell you the same thing.

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