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Editorial: Latest medical pot bill looks right for Illinois

A proposal thwould decriminalize possessiless than 2.5 grams cannabis send violators incity court rather than Lake County Circuit Court could

A proposal that would decriminalize possession of less than 2.5 grams of cannabis and send violators into city court rather than Lake County Circuit Court could move before the Waukegan City Council as the weather warms up.| AP file

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Updated: May 18, 2013 6:33AM



After years of near-misses, medical marijuana finally may be coming to Illinois.

It is about time. Past time.

Advocates have tried to legalize medical marijuana here for years. They’ve finally constructed a bill that is sufficiently strict enough — the strictest in the nation, apparently. This leaves opponents without the wiggle room they’ve long relied on to avoid supporting a bill that would bring relief to seriously ill people.

A vote on the medical marijuana bill is expected Wednesday in the Illinois House. In the name of compassion, we urge a yes vote. Less restrictive versions have previously passed the Senate. The big hurdle, then, is the House. Eighteen other states plus D.C. already allow sick citizens to find relief through medical marijuana.

Marijuana can reduce the nausea caused by anti-cancer drugs, is effective in improving the appetite of AIDS patients and in treating the pain of multiple sclerosis and eye pressure caused by glaucoma. On Tuesday, some 250 Illinois doctors offered support for medical marijuana.

Backers of this bill have gone to great lengths to tighten it up to allay opponents’ concerns. The bill, a four-year pilot, would strictly regulate who can get medical pot, when and where. Prescriptions would be limited to about 30 illnesses, such as cancer, Crohn’s disease and MS, and must come from a doctor with an established relationship to the patient. Patients would be limited to 2.5 ounces every two weeks, purchased only from designated dispensaries.

Every sale would be recorded for tracking purposes. Patients could not grow their own pot, as is allowed in California.

There is deep support among the public for legalizing medical pot, according to a recent poll.

The only holdup is timid politicians afraid of looking soft on drugs at the expense of sick neighbors and friends in dire need of relief.

This editorial has been changed to identify the correct amount of marijuana allowed every two weeks. The correct amount is 2.5 ounces.



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