Coalition for Medical Cannabis

Medical Marijuana Legislation Moves Forward In Illinois

IL State Rep./Former LA Cop Takes On One-Time Fed Over Medical Marijuana

Legislation to allow patients in need to have access to medical marijuana has been introduced in the Illinois legislature. The bill, House Bill 407, " Creates the Medical Cannabis Act. Provides that a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition and the person's primary caregiver may be issued a registry identification card by the Department of Human Services that permits the person or the person's primary caregiver to legally possess no more than 12 cannabis plants and two and one-half ounces of usable cannabis. Provides that a person who possesses a registry identification card is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denial of any right or privilege, including civil penalty or disciplinary action by a professional licensing board, for the medical use of cannabis; provided that the qualifying patient or primary caregiver possesses an amount of cannabis that does not exceed 12 cannabis plants and two and one-half ounces of usable cannabis. Amends the Cannabis Control Act to make conforming changes consistent with the Medical Cannabis Act."

HB407 was introduced by IL State Rep. Larry McKeon, a former Los Angeles police officer. As the State Journal-Register reported on Feb. 9, 2005 ( "Medical Marijuana Issue Heats Up"), "McKeon sponsored a similar proposal a year ago that allowed six cannabis plants and 1 ounce of usable cannabis. That measure was banished to a subcommittee of the House Health Care Availability and Access Committee. This year, McKeon's legislation is slated for the House Human Services Committee. 'I want to move it out of committee to the House floor and then hold it on the House floor until we've had a reasonable amount of time to do the education and outreach to get further feedback,' McKeon said."

Opposition to the bill is being led by Andrea Barthwell, a former official in the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to the State Journal-Register, "As a state lawmaker pushes his proposal to legalize medical-use marijuana, a former drug-policy adviser to President Bush is touring Illinois lecturing against the practice. The conflict reached a head this week, when Rep. Larry McKeon, D-Chicago, challenged Dr. Andrea Barthwell to a public debate about medical marijuana. Barthwell declined the challenge. 'I have no need to engage in street theater,' she said. McKeon charged that Barthwell's seminars appear to be a smear campaign against his proposal. The lawmaker - who is living with AIDS - said House Bill 407 attempts to improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients struggling with the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments. 'This is about dealing with health problems that traditional medications have failed at,' McKeon said."

The conflict over this measure is understandably becoming personal. The Belleville News-Democrat reported on Feb. 9, 2005 ("Former Federal Drug Policy Official Warns Of Marijuana") that "'Barthwell is spreading so many falsehoods that this begins to look like a 'marijuana disinformation tour,'' McKeon said. 'She regularly claims that medical marijuana is a 'hoax' foisted upon us by some cabal of 'legalizers' who are exploiting patients. As a person living with AIDS, who has spent a lot of time discussing this issue with doctors, nurses and fellow patients, I know that's false and I am personally insulted by this smear campaign.' House Bill 0407, currently under review by the House Human Services Committee, would allow people with a debilitating illness to legally possess no more than 12 marijuana plants and carry 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana. A similar bill is in the Senate. Illinois already has a law allowing licensed physicians to research the medicinal use of marijuana and protects participants from prosecution. Ten states now have laws to protect medical marijuana patients. The most recent was passed in Montana in November. 'Marijuana helps many people with HIV and AIDS by easing their nausea, boosting their appetite and helping them stay on their medications,' McKeon said. 'I've seen medical marijuana help others and know that many physicians recommend it. I don't know if I will ever need medical marijuana, but no one battling a life-threatening illness should face arrest and jail for simply trying to stay alive.'"

copyright © 2005, Coalition for Medical Marijuana
Sponsors Include: American Alliance for Medical Cannabis   --   Americans for Safe Access   --   Angel Justice   --   Angel Wings Patient OutReach, Inc.   --   California NORML   --   CannabisMD   --   Cannabis Action Network   --   Cannabis Consumers Campaign   --   Change The Climate   --   Common Sense for Drug Policy   --   DRCNet   --   Drug Policy Alliance   --   DrugSense   --   Green Aid   --   Human Rights in the Drug War   --   Patients Out of Time   --   Safe Access
Updated: Thursday, 16-Jul-2009 10:04:25 PDT   ~   Accessed: 15130 times
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