By Steve Elliott
Michelle DiGiacomo of Chicago won’t be allowed to use medical marijuana under the new law in Illinois — because she used medical marijuana before the law passed.
When police stormed DiGiacomo’s North Side Chicago apartment last year, she had known the day could come, since marijuana was still illegal in Illinois even for medical reasons. But she was still unprepared.
“I was about to experience the worst 28 hours of my life,” said DiGiacomo, 53, who runs Direct Effect Charities, which serves needy Chicago Public Schools kids, reports Maudlyne Ihejirika at the Chicago Sun-Times. “We had discussed this possibility in the past; one I had hoped would never come to be.”
The widowed mother had used marijuana for the past five years to control the pain of fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis and rotator cuff disease. Pharmaceuticals had resulted in adverse reactions, or had failed to provide relief.
After he September 13, 2012 arrest, she pleaded guilty on March 5 to Class 4 felony possession of marijuana, just five months before Gov. Pat Quinn signed the state’s medical marijuana bill into law.
Now she’s not allowed to take part in the program, because under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act, a felony conviction disqualifies her from accessing medical marijuana. Advocates say the story highlights the new law’s shortcomings.
DiGiacomo has “several chronically painful conditions,” according to Dr. Andrew Ruthberg, a Rush University Medical Center rheumatologist who has treated her for years. These include “rhematoid arthritis, a cervical spine disorder — which has required surgical repair — rotator cuff disease involving both shoulders, and a more recent lower back pain disorder.”
Dr. Ruthberg added that DiGiacomo has “had difficulty tolerating many traditional medications, and I fully believe that [her] use of marijuana has been solely for the purpose of trying to moderate chronic pain.”
“Pain is a daily issue living with these conditions,” said Dr. Howard An, Rush University Medical Center’s director of spine surgery, who has treated DiGiacomo since September 2010 and performed her spinal fusion surgery. “I know that [she has] tried numerous traditional medications without any relief. I fully believe that … use of marijuana has been for the use of controlling … chronic pain.”
“I made the difficult choice to use medical marijuana even though it was illegal, and I always felt like a criminal,” she said. “I did not want to get my medication in the street, so I made the hard decision to purchase it from a medical dispensary in California and receive it in the mail. It was terrifying. It was a horrible way to live.”
Minutes after she received 670 grams of marijuana from California in the mail, on September 13, 2012, police were at the door.
“I opened up to multiple guns pointed at me,” she said. “A police officer screamed, ‘Who’s in here?’ I told him, ‘Myself and my 14-year-old daughter.’ He asked where the guns were. I told him I had no guns. He asked where the drugs were. I told him where the small amount of medical marijuana I had in the house was, as well as what had just arrived.”
“Michelle DiGiacomo is not a criminal,” said Spencer Tweedy, whose father, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and mother, Susan Miller Tweedy, are longtime supporters of her charity work for school children. Spencer Tweedy helped raise $3,000 toward DiGiacomo’s legal fees.
This is a woman who despite her numerous and severe ailments has dedicated her life to charity work,” Tweedy said. “When [the poilice] impounded her car, it was filled with school supplies headed for impoverished students. The cost of defending herself against the law has crippled her more than her diseases ever have.”
Spending the night in Cook County Jail was “the most degrading experience of my life,” DiGiacomo said.
For six months, she fought to avoid a felony conviction that could severely impact her work as the CEO of a nonprofit. But the Cook County Attorney’s Office wouldn’t negotiate, refusing to lower the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, or to grant DiGiacomo 410 probation, which allows for expungement of first-time drug offenders.
“I was really surprised,” said her attorney, Michael Rediger. “The state’s attorney refused to even look at the fact that her doctors verified she was taking this as part of a medical treatment for pain, and that she did in fact have a California medical marijuana license; or to consider her longtime charitable work and the fact that she’d never been convicted of any other crime, not even a misdemeanor, nothing.”
Unable to afford trial, DiGiacomo pleaded guilty to Class 4 felony possession of marijuana. She got a year of probation, and went public, adding her story to the cacophony of stories used to exemplify the need for the law.
“Ms. DiGiacomo’s story … highlighted how not having a medical cannabis law hurts good, honest, hardworking people like her,” said Dan Linn, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“There’s a perception that we don’t need to pass medical marijuana legislation because police wouldn’t be cruel enough to arrest a sick person just trying to ease their suffering,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), based in Washington, D.C.
“Yet here’s a mother running a charity that helps thousands of kids, who was arrested at gunpoint … and will live the rest of her life as a felon, all because she is sick and marijuana helps her, as her doctors have attested,” Riffle said. “Stories like hers and other patients who were either arrested or lived in fear of arrest gave legislators reason to finally take action.”
But now that medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, it’s still illegal for DiGiacomo, because of her felony conviction — for using medical marijuana. This is despite the fact that she personally has no fewer than four of the 33 “debilitating medical conditions” specifically listed in the Illinois law.
“It Illinois, individuals with criminal histories are banned from the program, and it really makes no sense,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for MPP. “I have already been in discussions with the bill sponsor … about fixing some of the troubling areas of the law.
August 1 was bittersweet, DiGiacomo said, as she sat with other patients who stories helped the lobbying effort, watching Gov. Pat Quinn sign the bill into law.
“It was surreal to be with other patients who had worked for a very long time to make it happen,” she said. “While relief has finally arrived for them, it still has not for me, as my conviction will prevent me from getting the medicine that helps me the most.”
(Photo of Michelle DiGiacomo with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn: Direct Effect Charities)
"I don’t want to fucking give this United States government one fucking dollar of taxes…" — Jack Herer, "The Emperor of Hemp", September 12th, 2009
“I don’t want to fucking give this United States
government one fucking dollar of taxes…”
— Jack Herer, “The Emperor of Hemp”, September 12th, 2009
(Portland Hempstalk Festival–his final speech.)
The Fallacy of the “Legalize and Tax Cannabis” initiatives.
Overgrow The World
April 21, 2010
I have listened and understood the words of the late Jack Herer, and I am amazed how few people who say they believe in what Jack was saying truly understand the real reasons why he so horrified at the idea of creating new cannabis taxes. Let me explain quickly: THEY ARE NOT NEEDED AT ALL! As a matter of fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
Now I’m sure that many of you don’t believe me. If that is the case, then you also didn’t understand what Jack meant, or perhaps you simply weren’t paying attention, choosing to hear what you agreed with and ignoring what you didn’t understand, or simply weren’t interested in.
The first “ignored fact” is that the vast majority of the “illicit market” for cannabis is underground, hence, completely untaxed. There is a small fallacy to this statement, however, as even those “underground economies” still purchase their supplies, tools and equipment from “legitimate businesses” and those businesses all pay taxes of one form or another. Cannabis growers order pizza, buy gas, hire electricians and plumbers, et cetera. In this admittedly roundabout way, cannabis already is taxed, albeit to a very small degreee in comparison to the total size of the market as it stands, and to the potential which is known to exist.
Let’s say that cannabis/hemp were re-legalized prohibition was repealed today, and it was done so without the creation of any new tax codes specifically for cannabis. Most think that this would be a bad thing, as it wouldn’t be “exploiting the market” without creating new tax codes, new agencies, new enforcement regimes. Unfortunately, the people who believe that have been lied to, and it’s time that they learned the truth.
In actual fact, if cannabis were re-legalized prohibition was repealed today and taxes weren’t considered in the equation in any way, it would still be beneficial to society in terms of savings alone. We’d save money on policing, of which estimates range that between 40-60% of all police costs are directly due to “drug prohibition.” Logic follows that with police not bogged down with grandmothers taking a puff to slow their glaucoma, they would then be able to concentrate their resources on combating real crimes. Things like rape, murder, fraud, home invasion and theft, assault and battery, arson, financial crimes, environmental crimes (of which cannabis/hemp prohibition is one of the leading causes, in fact), and many more REAL crimes with REAL victims.
Taken a step further, lawyers would then be freed up to work on real crimes as well. So would prosecutors. So would judges, court stenographers, prison staff and more. WIthout locking away non-violent “criminals” who have harmed noone else–and this is the scary part for corporations–the “warehousing of otherwise productive humans for profit” would suddenly become far less profitable for the prison-industrial complex to continue, and prohibitionary statute development might begin to fade. With less “legal reasons” to imprison people for essentially minding their own business, more people would not have the lives and futures destroyed.
So let’s say that there were no new taxes created upon re-legalization of cannabis/hemp, and we ONLY consider the tens or hundreds of billions SAVED by no longer wasting time attacking people in their homes for posession or for growing a few plants for their own consumption. Are not those billions of dollars saved a tremendous enough benefit to justify the immediate repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition? Could saving those billions of dollars not be immediately transferred into lower taxes, or public debt reduction? Would those savings alone not be of tremendous, immediate and long-term social value?
Now let’s consider the tax idea on it’s own merit.
With re-legalization repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, there would immediately follow the creation of new businesses to exploit what is widely known to be a global market for cannaibs and hemp products. Each of those businesses would be subject to business income taxes that currently do not exist. WIthout a single character added to business tax statutes, the net result would be the establishment of “new revenue” from those “new businesses.”
Of course, those businesses would need people to man storefronts, deliver products, develop products, design packaging, grow the raw materials, process the raw materials, et cetera. These jobs would all be legitimate jobs in the real job market. Each of those jobs would be subject to existing income tax statutes. It’s not hard to see how those “new jobs” would in turn be utilized as “new tax revenue sources” which previously did not exist. Again, without a single line of new codes written, a brand new revenue stream has been obtained.
Each of those new employees and businesses would need supplies, equipment, computers, energy sources, and services. All of those businesses and individuals would then use their incomes to purchase those items or services they needed, either to operate or enhance their businesses, or simply to make their lives at home a little better. All of those products would be purchased at existing retailers and/or wholesalers that exist in the current “legitimate marketplace.” All (or the vast majority) of those purchases would be subject to sales taxes at state/provincial and federal levels. Again, not a single comma added to the existing statutes required, but “new revenue” has effectively been attained.
Now let’s take the cannabis market ITSELF.
All of those newly created and legitimate businesses would provide products that people either wanted or needed, be they for medical purposes or for recreational uses. All of those products would then be subject to state/provincial and federal sales taxes. With each sale would then come “new revenues” which do not exist today. Again–are you starting to notice a pattern yet?–without the addition of a single line of code to any existing tax codes.
The Fallacy of “New Government Regulatory Jobs”
People keep being told that “new jobs” will be created in the “new regulatory framework” that “will be needed”, but they haven’t thought this through. Some have partly thought it through, thinking that since a percentage of those worker’s incomes will be clawed back by income taxes–say 25%–that means that those jobs are “cheaper” than “real jobs”. That’s actually not quite right.
When you look the “real economy”, or in other words, the economy from which all government income is derived via the millions of tax codes which exist to take our incomes from us all, any position in this “real economy” is one which is subject to taxation, and therefore, is generally to be considered a contributing position.
On the other hand, when you look at “government jobs” which are wholly funded by “real people” with “real jobs” in the “real economy”, every government position which exists–no matter what country or what level of government–is a drain on society, and must be so, as “we hired them to work for us.”
Now let’s take a simple example that we’ve all heard a million times: “Joe The Plumber.”
If Joe was working in his own shop, or for someone else in their business, he would be a contributing factor in the “real economy” in the amount of taxation on his income, we’ll use 25% for illustration purposes. This means that 25% of his income is diverted to “public employees and projects” needed for society to function as it currently exists.
Now let’s take Joe’s situation if he were a government employee…let’s say he’s employed by the local Public Utilities Comission. Now Joe’s income is wholly funded by tax dollars, and thus, is a drain on society. We’ve established an income tax rate of 25%, so we can now say that Joe is “cheaper” because now his services now only costs us 75% of what they would, had he remained in his private sector job.
Here is the “minor error” in that logic: Joe has moved from the “real economy” to the “government economy”. In making that move, the “real economy” has lost 100% of a “real job”, while the government has gained an employee “at a discount of only 75% of their private sector wages.” When you add that up, you see quite clearly that Joe’s “new job” is effectively now a 175% loss to society as a whole.
Joe’s still making the same amount of money. We’re still paying him the same amount of money when he does his work…but now he is NOT contributing to the “real economy” at all, while he is draining 75% of his wages from unnaportioned taxation of the people who are forced to pay his salary, whether they partake of his services or not.
Unfortunately, this also applies to every “equivalent government position” that exists in the world. Accountants cost 175% of what they would cost in the “real economy.” So do welders, secretaries, cafeteria cooks, lawyers…ALL of them! If they work for the government, they are at a much higher cost than their equivalent “real world” positions in the real economy.
We need to keep this in mind whenever we hear talk of ” new regulations” because that almost always means “new regulatory bodies”, and that DEFINITELY always means “new government employees” which are going to cost us dearly if we allow such things to occur.
If we are forced to accept some form of taxation in order to move closer to the full repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, so be it…let’s move a little closer…but the second we have a positive change under our belts, we must NOT become complacent! We must continue to fight for the full repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition until the batttle is decisively won.
Once we have some “half-assed reasonable legislation” in place, we can guage what are the worst parts of those enacted bills and target them one by one until they’re all gone, and then, we will have our ofn freedom, and freedom for what is arguably the most important plant known on this planet.
At the Hempstalk Festival, during Jack Herer’s final public speech, he said (among other things):
“I don’t want to fucking give this United States government one fucking dollar of taxes…”
Obviously, he understood my thinking…or perhaps, I simply learned enough to come to an understanding of his.
What about you?
EDIT: I have since come up with the complete solution to the perils of prohibition in THREE WORDS:
If you remember only three words in your lifetime, THOSE are the ones that WILL end cannabis/hemp prohibition.
If we continue to be led by propagandists and prohibitionists into accepting ever-longer-names for prohibition, while believing we are “moving closer to freedom”, we’ll never get there…it’ll just keep getting more complex, more costly, and more damaging to society as a whole…as it has for decades already.
If we allow our politicians to “reschedule” cannabis, this COULD mean an outright statutory BAN on ALL cannabis use, medicinal or otherwise, for the length of time it would take “to conduct safety studies.” We already know that if they keep finding proof cannabis is non-toxic, anti-oxidant, neuroprotectant, et cetera, we also already know that these “safety studies” will be completed in an absolute minimum of 4-6 years, to an absolute maximum of…NEVER!
“Decriminalization” is NOT repeal. It’s still illegal.
“Legalization” simply tells the politicians and courts that we believe the fix to bad legislation conveived of in fraud can only be fixed not by deleting it from the recored entirely, but by making it more complex…but keeping it all on the books for future “quick-n-easy” readoption when prison investors want higher revenues to do their profit-taking from.
“Re-legalization” is just two letters prepended to the above.
“Tax and regulate” tells OUR EMPLOYEES that “we owe them new taxes for not wasting our money attacking us.” If we keep buying into the scam, they’ll get it, too!
“Regulate like [insert commodity of the hour here]” is just another way to justify the creation of a new regulatory body, hire new “government employees”, raise taxes, lower rights and freedoms, all while telling the wilfully ignorant population that “they are free.” They ain’t. They won’t be.
“REPEAL” means: The statutes are GONE. Deleted. History. Erased. Terminated. Removed from the “law” journals. NEVER TO RETURN.
The ridiculous proposition that “if we want it legal again, we have to create new taxes” is also a prime example of idiotic propaganda foisted upon a wilfully ignorant population. Only two seconds of thought tells you the truth of the situation…we do NOT need to “appease our employees” when we finally force them to stop wasting our money. Not wasting all those billions of dollars every year should be, and IS, reward enough to everyone all on it’s own!
When we find out we’ve got a crooked mechanic who’s bee charging us for spark plug changes on every visit that we didn’t really need, and were nothing more than a waste of OUR money…we don’t praise them and give them permanent bonuses, do we? So where did the idea come from, that in order for our employees to simply do their job with a litle more brainpower behind their actions, that we need to give them more money and hire more people? Reality has to sink in eventually, folks! Even through the infinitely thick skulls of “politicians.” They might be as dense as the core of a neutron star, but they still have ear holes! SO START SPEAKING UP!!!
Either we DEMAND the full repeal of prohibition, or we will continue on with it forever, just with a different name, and higher taxes…and let’s face it, folks: OUR EMPLOYEES will be completely happy to rename what they’re doing to us and call it whatever we want to call it, if we’re dumb enough to allow it to continue. Are we really so blind as to STILL not see the truth for what it is?
Want it over? MAKE it over!
It really is just as simple as that.
* That solves prohibition on a national level…we still need to remove cannabis/hemp from the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in order to end prohibition GLOBALLY.
The Fallacy of the “Legalize and Tax Cannabis” initiatives.
Overgrow The World
April 21, 2010
MY PERSONAL COMMENT: SOMETIMES (MOST OFTEN) OLD NEWS IS THE BEST NEWS – SMK.
The U.S. Marijuana Party, did, on February 24, 2013, loose one of its first and most influential Presidents,
Second only to Loretta Nall, who preceded him as the first President of the USMJParty in 2002.
Richard James Rawlings took the head of the table in 2005 after Ms. Nall’s resignation.
He actively ran for Congress in Peoria Illinois several times. He promoted many legalization activities in the Peoria area of Illinois and attended many more events in various states until he began to become ill in 2009-10.
It was not until July of 2012 that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Throat, Lung and Adrenal Cancer.
At the age of 51, he died peacefully at his mother’s home where we had resided since shortly after his hospitalization in Glasgow Kentucky for two weeks in July 2012 where he received the diagnosis and the surgery for the trach which he would continue to wear until the night of his death when I removed it.
All of his family were with him almost constantly during the last two weeks. And I am forever grateful to them for all their support to me during this most difficult time.
His death broke my Heart. We were not only coworkers, friends and companions – we were lovers and partners.
He will never be forgotten by me and I know the same sentiment holds true with all of his family, friends and followers.
May what he stood for never be forgotten: Repeal of Hemp/Marijuana/Cannabis Laws at best or Legalization at least.
May He Rest In Peace
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Knee jerk? You betcha. Keep in mind that medical marijuana isn’t even legal in Illinois. So these people are wasting their time banning businesses that can’t even exist according to their state law.
The Illinois state legislature failed to pass medical marijuana laws in the 2012 session, but lawmakers have introduced an almost identical bill again this session. Dubbed House Bill 1, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, the proposal would allow for cultivation and distribution businesses in the state for a limited, trial period. The 2012 version also made possession of up to two ounces legal and would have made driving within six hours of medicating illegal.
Libertyville officials say that if the bill were passed, they wouldn’t be able to handle the zoning requests through their current code. The resolution the town passed January 22 – which is contingent on the state passing House Bill 1 – would require a public hearing on whether or not the town should adjust their zoning to allow medical marijuana businesses at all. It’s basically a ban, without really being a ban.
Multiple calls to the town trustees and mayor were not immediately returned. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.
Also on the chopping block at the January 22 town meeting were sex-related businesses. The town lingerie store would be spared, but all other stores selling porno flicks and vibrators (and any strip clubs) will be forced to operate in the industrial district on the edge of the Chicago suburb.
So while you can still get a lap dance in Libertyville, there’s apparently no room for people providing compassionate pain relief.
Official White House Response to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol. and 7 other petitions
What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana
By Gil Kerlikowske
When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health– the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.
Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.
As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.
That is why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we’ve seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We’re also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.
Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.
Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President’s approach to drug control to learn more.
- National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Marijuana Facts (ONDCP)
- Drug Abuse Warning Network (HHS)
- Treatment Episode Data Set (HHS)
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS)
- Monitoring the Future Survey, University of Michigan
Gil Kerlikowske is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
A PRAYER TO OUR CREATOR
WE COME TOGETHER TODAY TO PRAISE YOUR ALMIGHTY
GIFTS TO US…
YOU HAVE GIVEN US LIGHT FOR WARMTH,
MEADOWS OF FRESH FLOWERS,
AND HERBS,TO KEEP UP HEALTHY,
YOU GAVE US DARK TO SLEEP AND TO REST OUR
WEARY HEARTS AND MINDS FOR ANOTHER DAY,
YOU GAVE US BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO LOVE US,
AND CHILDREN TO CARRY ON OUR NEVER-ENDING
ENDEAVORS – TO CARRY OUT YOUR WILL ,
AS WE KNOW WE WILL NEVER ACCOMPLISH
YOU GIVE US INTELLIGENCE TO BE ABLE TO
SEPARATE THE GOOD FROM THE EVIL,
DEAR FATHER IN HEAVEN,
GIVE US THIS DAY, OUR DAILY BREAD,
AND FORGIVE US OUR SINS,
AS WE FORGIVE ALL OTHERS,
GIVE US THE STRENGTH, TO CARRY ON,
TO RECTIFY THE EVIL THAT TO WHICH WE HAVE
TO BRING BACK THE MEADOWS,
THE FLOWERS AND TREE’S,
TO CONTINUE TO HEAR THE BIRD’S AND BEE’S!
BLESS THE HEMP LORD, AND KEEP IT STRONG,
AND ENABLE US, TO CARRY ON…
*Dedicated with Love to Richard J. Rawlings…USMJParty
Pubdate: Fri, 28 Dec 2012
Source: Courier News (Elgin, IL)
Copyright: 2012 Dan Linn
Author: Dan Linn
MEDICAL MARIJUANA NOT THE REAL THREAT TO KIDS
In response to Judy Kreamer’s letter ( Dec. 28 ) about medical marijuana, it should be understood that many of those admissions to treatment centers for marijuana are the result of a judge offering jail time or rehab and are not voluntary admissions by people who feel they are addicted to marijuana.
Also, her fears about children getting access to this medicine are unfounded, as there has never been a documented overdose fatality from marijuana use, for medical purposes or otherwise.
If she is concerned about children getting access to medicine that is truly dangerous, the pill-mill doctors who recklessly prescribe opioid based painkillers are where she should focus. Those pills are in many medicine cabinets across the country and have been the main reason so many young people are dying from drugs in suburban America.
Illinois lawmakers have been debating medical marijuana for many years now, and hopefully they can pass a bill that would protect some very sick people from arrest and give them safe and legal access to this medicine. The bill currently being debated in Springfield has very specific conditions that would qualify for a medical cannabis card, and surely no teenager would be willing to contract HIV in order to legally get marijuana. Furthermore, parental permission is required for minors who have a listed condition.
Kreamer’s intentions to protect the children are noble, but she doesn’t mention any of the people who are struggling to live and would be helped if Illinois were to allow doctors to recommend marijuana. Plus, medical cannabis patients don’t want a program that could be abused, because there is a provision for the law to expire after three years. That provision and limiting the qualifying conditions are all things that lawmakers have added to this measure over the years of debating this issue.
Unfortunately, over those years, many sick people have been denied legal access to this well-documented medicine, too. It is immoral to continue to incriminate cancer patients who need this medicine to eat and continue their chemotherapy. It is immoral to force multiple sclerosis patients to get their medicine from an illegal and unregulated dealer. It is immoral to deny medicine to those who need it because of scare tactics aimed at parents.
Executive director, Illinois chapter of NORML ( National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws )
MAP posted-by: Jo-D
A bid to legalize medical cannabis in Illinois is sputtering out, with a key lawmaker saying it’s unlikely he will put an MMJ measure up for a vote in the state House by the Jan. 8 deadline.
“Looks like it is not going to happen right now,” Illinois State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) wrote in an email response to questions by Medical Marijuana Business Daily.
Lang said he doesn’t have time today to explain the situation. But he indicated that his decision to let the bill die without a vote doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of support among lawmakers.
“It has little to do with vote count,” he wrote.
Just a few weeks ago, it appeared that Illinois had a real shot at becoming the 19th US state to legalize medical cannabis. An MMJ bill had already cleared the state Senate, and Lang expressed optimism that he could get the 60 votes needed to pass a similar proposal in the House.
Several supportive lawmakers began wavering in late November ahead of the initial scheduled vote on the bill. But Lang was able to extend the final deadline for a vote to Jan. 8 and has remained optimistic about its chances of passage, saying he needs a little extra time to gain support from his peers.
The bill – which has seven co-sponsors aside from Lang – calls for a three-year pilot program allowing registered patients to obtain medical marijuana from licensed, regulated nonprofit dispensaries under one of the strictest regulatory frameworks in the country.
Illinois would be a huge win for the medical cannabis industry. The state is home to roughly 13 million people (which ranks fifth in the country by population), giving it a potential market of around 260,000 MMJ patients.
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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