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Bill on medical marijuana passes Illinois committee vote


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • The Illinois business community worries that, under the state’s latest medical marijuana proposal, employers would have no authority to enforce drug-free workplace codes.

Todd Maisch, vice president of governmental affairs for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, told an Illinois House committee on Wednesday that the measure would create a loophole for employees to use marijuana without penalties.

Maisch said he envisions problems involving a worker “who knows a little bit about the law to say, ‘You know what, my cousin is under the care of medical marijuana and we were just hanging out together, watching the big ballgame, and consequently that’s where I came under'” the influence.

Legislation approved by a human services committee Wednesday includes language specifically aimed at calming employer concerns.

State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, the bill’s sponsor, pointed out: “This act shall in no way limit an employer’s ability to discipline an employee for ingesting cannabis in the workplace or for working while under the influence of cannabis.”

Chairman of the committee, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said that employers should be just as worried about monitoring prescription medication use. Debate on how legalizing cannabis for medical purposes would affect the state’s business community will continue as the bill advances to the House floor.

Changes approved Wednesday include establishing a database of users that allows law enforcement to monitor patients, removing the “grow-your-own” option from the bill and establishing nonprofit dispensaries to distribute controlled doses of the drug.

The committee approved the measure Wednesday by a 6-5 vote.

The bill is HB30.

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