Lou Lang (D-Skokie) is hopeful that medical marijuana, or House Bill 0030, will pass this January, saying, “Nobody should fear the bill.”
If medical marijuana passes in Illinois, a patient can have no more than six cannabis plants and two ounces of dried usable cannabis at any given time, according to the bill. Illinois lawmaker Lou Land (D-Skokie) is hopeful the bill will pass this January 2013 before the House of Representatives.
House member Lou Lang (D-Skokie) has been pushing two controversial bills in recent years: the expansion of Illinois gaming and the legalization of medical marijuana.
Whenever asked about the possibility of Illinois becoming the nineteenth state to legalize the green leafy substance, Lang is always optimistic. Two years ago, he told Skokie Patch he only needed to secure “two or three” votes to pass the bill. Obviously, that never came to fruition.
However, other states have recently passed similar bills and Lang is hoping Illinois can become the next state to ride the green wave and help those who can seriously benefit from the drug. Recently, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia now allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington have taken it to another level, allowing citizens to smoke pot recreationally.
But for Lang the legalization of medical marijuana isn’t about recreation use – it’s about helping people who can benefit tremendously from the drug, he said.
“Nobody should fear the bill,” Lang told Skokie Patch. “This is about quality of life for people.”
Lang said he “strongly believes” that lawmakers will be voting on the bill this January, a month known by many as the “lame duck session,” where elected officials can vote on a particular bill just before the end of his or her tenure.
“Illinois would be the nineteenth state to pass the bill (the District of Columbia also recently passed the bill),” Lang said. “And of all of those, Illinois will be the most tightly regulated.”
What are some of those regulations? According to House Bill 0030:
- Repeal the program after three years. This means the use of medical marijuana would enter a three year pilot program to see how effective the bill is working and, if any tweaks or adjustments need to be made for the future.
- People will not be allowed to drive for six hours after consuming marijuana.
- It would be illegal for marijuana dispensaries to make campaign contributions.
- Those looking to dispense medical marijuana would have to pay a $5,000 non-refundable application fee and a $20,000 certificate fee.
- If passed, a person who can legally smoke medical marijuana can have no more than two ounces of dried usable cannabis at any given time.
- If a caregiver or patient dispenses – or sells – cannabis illegally they will face a penalty of not more than two years in prison and a fine not more than $2,000.
- Also, see PDF image attached above.
Lang said he is “very close” to securing the 60 votes needed to pass the measure to the Senate. If the bill arrives on the Senate’s floor, many experts believe they will approve the measure.
In May 2011, Lang’s medical marijuana bill received 53 of the 60 votes needed to pass. In November 2010, the bill once again fell short by seven votes and failed to pass to the Senate.
“How do you turn down the people who are sick? Who are in pain.” Lang said. “People who haven’t been able to have a quality life. This is not a bill about drugs. This is a bill about health care.”
Correction – It was previously reported that a person can have up to six dried plants in their home. This was part of the previous bill and has since been taken out.
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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