Our View: Medical pot inevitable in Illinois
SouthtownStar editorial April 11, 2013 9:32PM
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:31AM
A group of Illinois residents held a news conference this week in Springfield in support of House Bill 1, which would legalize medical marijuana and is before the Legislature.
The residents suffer from serious illnesses, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, for which the proposed law would allow marijuana use to relieve pain and enable them to better cope with their disease.
The bill’s fate is uncertain — its chances look good in the House but appear less sure in the Senate. Its eventual passage seems assured, however, and likely sooner rather than later, based on a national trend recognizing the medical benefits of marijuana and a rising belief that it’s not a gateway to dangerous drugs or addiction.
In fact, a national poll last month by the Pew Research Center shows that, for the first time in more than 40 years of the firm’s polling, a majority of American adults (52 percent to 45 percent) support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. And by a margin of 72 percent to 23 percent, they believe that federal efforts to prohibit pot “cost more than they are worth,” according to the poll.
The Illinois Legislature has considered a medical marijuana law three times in recent years. Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) pulled a bill without a vote in the lame-duck session last fall because he lacked the needed number of votes. He’s back with the same proposal.
It would establish a three-year pilot program in which patients with certain diseases could acquire up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks with their doctor’s approval. Patients would get the pot from a nonprofit dispensary, and marijuana would be grown at up to 22 cultivation centers statewide. Patients would not be able to grow their own pot.
Illinois is one of nine states with pending legislation on medical marijuana, including neighboring Iowa and Missouri. In addition, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it, including Michigan, and Maryland is poised to become the 20th, having passed a law last week that the governor says he will sign.
The time may not have come for medical marijuana in Illinois, but it doesn’t seem far away.