Illinois medical marijuana bill may see Wednesday vote – Cheryl Shuman

Illinois medical marijuana bill may see Wednesday vote

Updated at 09:56 PM today
Medical marijuana is seen at a dispenary in Los Angeles in this undated file photo.
Medical marijuana is seen at a dispenary in Los Angeles in this undated file photo. (KABC Photo)

November 27, 2012 (CHICAGO) — Chicago resident Julie Falco eats three marijuana brownies a day, her chosen method of using cannabis to control her pain from multiple sclerosis.

For her, marijuana works better and has fewer side effects than the prescription drugs that left her depressed and in a fog, she said. She’s tired of breaking the law, but doesn’t want to give up cannabis.

Falco hopes Illinois lawmakers will remember her story as they consider a three-year pilot program to temporarily legalize medical marijuana.

“Let’s get this done,” Falco said. “People are dying in pain and they need an option.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, wants the House to vote on the bill Wednesday and thinks political momentum is on his side. Freeport Republican Rep. Jim Sacia opposes the bill, but acknowledges Lang may have the votes to pass it.

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 said. Lawmakers in the past told him they favor the bill but couldn’t vote for it for political reasons, he said.

Now, some lame ducks can vote for the bill without consequences, and others saw the lack of fallout for those who voted for the bill in the spring. A few fence-sitters could give him the 60 votes he needs, Lang said.

“I ran down the roll call about 10 times just today,” Lang said Tuesday. “It’s hovering around 60. I could be a couple short. I could be a few over.”

Sacia, a former FBI agent, predicts the law will lead recreational drug users to seek out friendly doctors who are willing to say they have a qualifying illness.

“I just see it as a tremendous mistake,” said Sacia, who plans to speak against the bill Wednesday. “Illinois has proven itself to be increasingly liberal. I don’t have any illusions we can change people’s minds. I recognize the momentum is in Rep. Lang’s favor.”

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.

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 email. “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, a patient 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.

Lang said 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.

The Institute of Medicine reviewed the scientific evidence for medical marijuana in a 1999 report, which recommended more research.

But the report also said the effects of THC and other components of marijuana on anxiety reduction, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction and pain relief might be helpful for “particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.” It also warned that smoking marijuana could be dangerous and could possibly increase the risk of “cancer, lung damage, and poor pregnancy outcomes.”

Other safeguards of the bill include a ban on doctors having financial ties to nonprofit marijuana dispensaries, guarantees that employers could still enforce drug-free policies and no requirement for insurance coverage.

Patients would be limited to 2.5 ounces every two weeks, which Falco considers a minimal amount for someone like her.

“It’s the most restrictive bill anywhere,” Falco said. To win support from doubters, the bill was amended to meet their concerns, she said.

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.

Falco hopes lawmakers will “do the right thing.”

“People ask me if I get high. I don’t know what that means,” Falco said. “High? What that means to me is pain relief. That’s my high. I get pain relief.”


The bill is HB30.


About Cheryl Shuman

Tom Cruise, Steven Tyler, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mike Myers, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Fergie, and Michael Jackson are just a few of the names you'll find scrolling through the client files during the 25 year career of Cheryl Shuman. Known as the "Martha Stewart of Marijuana," Cheryl Shuman announces the formation of Green Asset International Inc.. Shuman brings decades of experience working with media, celebrities, marketing and health care in Beverly Hills. Shuman found her passion in the cannabis movement since 1996 working as an activist and legal cannabis patient. Since using cannabis therapy, she has survived cancer and injuries from two car crashes. Shuman was the founder of Beverly Hills NORML, founding charter member of the NORML Women's Alliance and served on the steering committee for Public Relations and Marketing on an International platform. Cheryl Shuman is a founding member of the NCIA, National Cannabis Industry Association. Cheryl Shuman transformed her non-profit career into a thriving profitable media enterprise. Cheryl was the Executive Director of Celebrity, Media and Public Relations for the KUSH Brand which includes KUSH Magazine, KUSH Conventions and Cheryl Shuman has been interviewed for television programs, newspapers and magazines, including but not limited to: ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Today Show NBC, HBO Entertainment News and more. Her private medical cannabis collective, "The Beverly Hills Cannabis Club" is unlisted and membership is by referral only. Through her personal relationships and connections within Hollywood, Cheryl Shuman has been named as one of the most influential women in the cannabis reform movement by international media. Her position within the cannabis industry creates the first and only company of its kind and at the forefront of entertainment marketing, celebrity endorsements, product placement integration, sponsorships, production and technology. Cheryl Shuman serves as media spokesperson for the hot new vaporizer CANNACig Rapid Fire Marketing (pink sheets: RFMK) and conducts their marketing, public relations, product placement, and consulting services. Cheryl Shuman, Inc. is a business development company and acquisition vehicle. Shuman made news with an historic funding facility dedicated to the cannabis industry with plans to go public by 2014. Cheryl Shuman currently has a hot new reality TV series in development and is represented by the prestigous William Morris Endeavor Agency in Beverly Hills, California. President & C.E.O. Spokesperson for CANNACig by RFMK Beverly Hills Cannabis Club Join Free Using "Cheryl Shuman" as your invitation code on: Social Network Links: LinkedIN: Facebook: Twitter: YouTube: Vimeo:
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