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The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana

The Cato Institute invites you to a Policy Forum: "The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana" featuring: Donald Abrams, M.D. Director of Clinical Programs, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California Robert DuPont, M.D. President, Institute for Behavior and Health and Rob Kampia Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project moderated by: Tim Lynch Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute Ten years ago, on March 17, 1999, an important government study was released regarding certain patients’ use of marijuana as prescribed by their doctors. The Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, issued what was then the most comprehensive analysis of the scientific and medical literature about marijuana. The report stated, “The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation.” Many medical experts continue to caution about harms that may result from smoking marijuana, though those harms need to be weighed against other harms that particular patients may be facing. In the political realm, the debate over the legal status of medical marijuana continues to rage. Since 1996, 12 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. What have medical scientists learned about marijuana over the past 10 years? And how have the politics on this contentious issue shifted at the federal and state level? Join us for a lively discussion of the science and politics of medical marijuana. (Luncheon to follow) Cato Policy Forums and luncheons are free of charge. To register, visit www.cato.org, e-mail events@cato.org, fax (202) 371-0841, or call (202) 789-5229 by 12:00 p.m. Monday, March 16. News media inquiries only (no registrations), please call (202) 789-5200. If you can't make it to the Cato Institute, watch this Forum live online at www.cato.org.
Date: 
Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:00pm
Location: 
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine

Find out how patients all over the country have defied the federal government in order to acquire their medicine and hear what is at stake in the battle to end marijuana prohibition. For more information, contact 207-333-6985 or info@mainecommonsense.org.
Date: 
Wed, 03/18/2009 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Location: 
Glickman Family Library -- 7th Floor
Portland, ME 04104
United States

Federal Prosecutors Seem Confused About Obama's Medical Marijuana Policy

I'm hearing a lot of discussion about this odd story from the LA Times:

The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles sent a confidential memo to prosecutors last week ordering them to stop filing charges against medical marijuana dispensaries, then abruptly lifted the ban on Friday, according to sources familiar with the developments.

So he initially orders everyone to completely back off of medical marijuana cases, then for unknown reasons, reverses course and tells prosecutors to proceed as they have in the past. It's creepy and plays right into the suspicions of those who thought the Feds wouldn’t back off without a fight.

Nonetheless, I'm leaning towards the assumption that the initial memo was just a little bit premature, but that we'll ultimately see a policy along those lines. I contacted Caren Woodson at Americans for Safe Access for a more informed analysis. Here's what she has to say:
I think it's confusion --- it's important to remember that we aren't even close to having the appropriate Obama officials seated at this point.  We expect, per the White House's comments, review of the policy as these people are formulating new policy. Keep in mind Deputy AG Ogden hasn't been sworn in yet.

At this point there has been no new movement; no new raids or new indictments. We are, however, still concerned about what becomes of the individuals still undergoing prosecution or waiting federal sentences... And I think that will require a deeper, more comprehensive discussion with the Obama Administration...once we have a better sense of who will be staying and who will not!

In other words, don’t freak out, at least not yet. The new administration has said the raids will end and that's what we're expecting.

Press Release: 10 Years After Institute of Medicine Recognized Medical Marijuana, Policy Catches Up With Science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MARCH 9, 2009   

10 Years After Institute of Medicine Recognized Medical Marijuana, Policy Catches Up With Science
Big Progress on State, Federal Levels; MPP's Rob Kampia to Debate at Cato Institute Forum March 17

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the 10th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine's historic report recognizing marijuana's value as a medicine approaches, medical marijuana patients and advocates are celebrating remarkable progress that has accelerated rapidly in recent months. A decade after the report's release on March 17, 1999, medical marijuana supporters see policy finally beginning to match scientific reality.

     In late February, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that President Obama's campaign promise to end Drug Enforcement Administration attacks on state medical marijuana laws "is now American policy." In November, Michigan voters passed a medical marijuana law by the largest margin ever racked up by such an initiative, and medical marijuana bills are moving steadily forward in legislatures across the country, including Minnesota, Illinois and New Jersey.

     After California voters passed the nation's first effective medical marijuana law in November, 1996, the Clinton administration asked the Institute of Medicine to review existing research and report on potential medical uses of marijuana. The report, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," while cautiously and carefully written, clearly acknowledged marijuana's therapeutic value for some seriously ill patients, stating, "Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting and all can be mitigated by marijuana."

     The report acknowledged the drawbacks of smoking and urged creation of a "rapid-onset, nonsmoked cannabinoid delivery system," but added, "In the meantime, there are patients with debilitating symptoms for whom smoked marijuana might provide relief." Studies published since 1999 have verified that marijuana vaporizers provide just the sort of rapid, nonsmoked delivery the IOM suggested.

     Until recently, federal officials ignored the findings, prompting co-author Dr. John Benson to tell the New York Times in 2006 that the government "loves to ignore our report. ... They would rather it never happened."

     "For 10 long years the federal government waged a war against science, and against the sick and suffering, but the Obama administration has clearly signaled that this insane war on patients is going to end," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "With medical marijuana bills advancing nationwide, it's clear a new day has dawned."

     Kampia will join University of California researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, whose studies have further documented marijuana's medical value, and opponent Robert Dupont for what should be a lively discussion of the report's 10th anniversary hosted by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., on March 17 at noon. For reservations for this free event, call 202-789-5229. The Cato Institute is located at 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

     Studies published since the IOM report was released have confirmed that medical marijuana can safely relieve neuropathic pain, a particularly hard to treat type of pain that afflicts millions with HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and other illnesses. Other studies have shown that use of medical marijuana to relieve nausea and other drug side effects is associated with better adherence to life-saving treatment regimens for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

     With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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CO: Vote on Medical Marijuana POSTPONED

**ALERT**

Grassroots power forces Board of Health to postpone vote on medical marijuana

 

March 18 Hearing date is delayed

GOOD NEWS!    The Colorado Board of Health has officially postponed its vote on restricting medical marijuana patients rights.  This vote was previously scheduled for March 18th and will be moved to a date to be announced-- likely in June.

This delay is a direct result of the overwhelming grassroots response the Board received when it announced this vote-- including the hundreds of emails and letters sent by supporters like yourself.  

After receiving this response, the state decided to delay the vote to secure a room large enough to accommodate the many, many patients and supporters that care about this issue.  

Click HERE to support Sensible Colorado's important-- and effective-- work.   

On behalf of Colorado's over 5000 medical marijuana patients, thank you for responding to Sensible Colorado's action alerts (and those of our partners at MPP, ASA, SAFER, and Norml). 

For now, medical marijuana patients in Colorado can breathe a sigh of relief.  But we will need your help again in June.  Keep an eye out for further action alerts and donate today to support our work.  Every dollar we raise allows us to keep fighting this threat to safe access.   

In solidarity,

Brian Vicente

Executive Director 

www.sensiblecolorado.org  

Location: 
CO
United States

Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Advances With Favorable House Committee Vote

For the first time, a medical marijuana bill has won an Illinois House committee vote. The House Human Services Committee voted 4-3 Wednesday to send forward HB 2514, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

Under the bill, persons diagnosed by a physician as suffering a debilitating medical condition and their caretakers would be issued an ID card and placed on a registry run by the Department of Public Health. Each patient could possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana and seven plants. If enacted, the Illinois medical marijuana law would expire after three years and have to be reenacted.

A companion bill, SB 1381, is pending in the state Senate. It is sponsored by former state's attorney Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) and is scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday.

Wednesday's House committee vote came after public testimony from proponents and opponents of the bill. Medical marijuana patient Lucie MacFarlane, 46, of Joliet, told the panel she uses the herb to relieve the constant pain she suffers from neurofibromatosis and a surgery that left her spine fused.

"Doctors need every safe, effective medicine available to them when treating patients with serious conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Jay Riseman, a Springfield physician who testified before the committee. "I've seen medical marijuana work for patients when nothing else did, and I should be able to recommend it to my patients without leaving them vulnerable to arrest and even jail."

House bill sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was perhaps the bill's most ardent advocate. "People cannot get relief in any other place, except totally sedating and debilitating medication that makes them unable to cope with life," he said, pointing to MacFarlane and other patients. "Strong evidence shows that this is very significant help to them in their life, and I don't understand why anybody would be against this," Lang said.

But Lang understood all too well the opposition and blamed posturing politicians looking for any excuse to kill it. Addressing concerns raised by the California experience -- a much more wide open system than that envisioned in his bill -- Lang said the legislation is tightly drafted. "This is a very controlled bill. It doesn't allow anyone to have more than seven plants," Lang said. "Second, we have to be able to trust the medical community." He said there is little outcry when doctors prescribe massive amounts of morphine, Vicodin or codeine to alleviate pain. "It's only when you start talking about cannabis that people start talking about that, because they're looking for an excuse to be against the bill," he said.

Medical Marijuana: On the Move in Minnesota as Second Senate Committee Gives Okay

A bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Minnesota has cleared a second committee in the state Senate, with the Judiciary Committee approving it on a narrow 4-3 vote. A hearing on the companion House bill before the House Civil Justice Committee is expected shortly.

The bill, SF 97, would allow qualified patients or their caregivers to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants. People suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Hep C, or Tourette's Syndrome or a chronic or debilitating disease or its treatment that produces wasting syndrome, intractable pain, severe nausea, seizures, or spasms whose doctors approve of their use would qualify.

A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee vote during the 2007-2008 session, but died without a House floor vote. It faced the strong opposition of law enforcement and a veto threat from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty's position has not changed, but bill supporters are hoping it will.

"I am increasingly confident that this will be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 other states that have acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). "This is an issue where science, compassion and simple common sense come together."

Before voting, the Senate committee heard testimony from opponents and proponents of the bill. "Two puffs, two minutes, and the violent sickness was totally gone," said Kathy Rippentrop, who described her mother's use of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of cancer chemotherapy. "An hour later, Mom was able to have a good meal. The stomach problems from the chemo were totally gone. It also helped her regain a quality of life that allowed her to continue to fight."

And while some worried that allowing for the use of medical marijuana would make law enforcement's job more difficult, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), whose husband died of colon cancer, was not one of them. "We're not talking about getting people hooked on drugs and then going out in the street and, you know, destroying their lives and passing it on to other people," said Prettner Solon. "We're talking about end of life issues -- a last resort for people's suffering."

Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. Monthly Public Meeting

Please join us at our next meeting! Here's the agenda: 7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve minutes. Discuss: - On to the Assembly! The entire NJ Senate voted to approve “The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” as amended, on 2/23/09, by a vote of 22 – 16. We could not have done this without your support. Now, the final steps to passing this bill into law will be the votes the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and in the full assembly. Contact your assembly representative now. Every major newspaper in NJ has editorially endorsed medical marijuana, polls in NJ show overwhelming public support (70% to 86% in favor), and numerous healthcare organizations support medical marijuana. Gov. Corzine has said that he will sign this bill into law when it gets through the assembly and onto his desk. Let’s get it done. - Chris Goldstein and CMMNJ gave a medical marijuana seminar at Rutgers University/Camden Law School on 2/18/09 thanks to the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter there. Follow Chris’ blogs about medical marijuana in New Jersey including a live blog of the senate vote at salon.com. Or, listen to the live senate debate and hear CMMNJ’s comments on MyFoxPhillyChannel 29. Medical marijuana was one of the top news stories on WZBN TV-25, New Jersey's Capital News Station on 1/13/09. CMMNJ also appeared on WIFI 1460 AM Talk Radio in Burlington County, NJ on 2/12/09. - The Drug Policy Alliance is running a medical marijuana Compassionate Use Campaign in New Jersey. NORML NJ is also actively supporting the bill, as is the national organization, Patients Out of Time. CMMNJ has new photos, etc. on Facebook and Facebook Friends of CMMNJ. - Treasury report: Help us raise funds by buying Wristbands/$2, T-shirts/$15, Lapel Pins and DVDs/$10 each. Also, consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations may be made securely through Paypal or checks made out to “CMMNJ” and sent to corporate headquarters at the address below. Thank you. 9:00 PM Adjourn meeting. Scheduled Meetings are March 10, 2009, April 14, 2009, & May 12, 2009. CMMNJ Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Lawrence Twp. Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., NJ (Tel. #609.882.9246). All are welcome. Snacks are served. (Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.) For more info, contact: Ken Wolski, RN, MPA Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org 844 Spruce St., Trenton, NJ 08648 (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com
Date: 
Tue, 03/10/2009 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: 
2751 Brunswick Pike
Lawrence Township, NJ
United States

Americans for Safe Access March 2009 Activist Newsletter

Americans for Safe Access
Monthly Activist Newsletter

Defending Patients' Access to Medical Marijuana

·    Mar. 2009

  • Volume 4, Issue 3

U.S. Attorney General Says Medical Marijuana Raids Over

Pressure from Advocates Brings Change to Long-standing Policy

The tireless work of medical cannabis patients and activists has begun to pay big dividends in Washington, D.C., with the new Administration's attorney general, Eric Holder, telling a news conference that ending the raids on medical cannabis providers is now government policy.

Attorney General Eric HolderAttorney General Eric Holder and Pres. Obama

ASA members were among the thousands of advocates calling the White House and their elected representatives in the wake of the raids, deluging the administration's website with pleas for policy change, and participating in a large protest at the federal building in Los Angeles.

Holder, appearing at a Washington news conference on Feb. 25 alongside the DEA's current Acting Adminstrator, Michele Leonhart, was responding to a question about whether the DEA raids that have occurred in California since Obama took office last month would continue.

"What the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing in law enforcement," Holder said, noting that Obama is his boss. "What he said during the campaign is now American policy."

During the campaign, President Obama was repeatedly faced with questions about federal interference in the 13 states that have enacted medical cannabis laws. Obama said then that his experience with his mother's death from cancer made him sympathetic with the plight of patients, and that he saw no difference between a doctor prescribing morphine and marijuana. During a March 2007 interview, he also said that he thought it "entirely appropriate" for states to look after the health and welfare of their citizens be legalizing the medical use of marijuana "with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors."

The attorney general's comments follow a White House statement from earlier in the month, in which spokesman Nick Shapiro responded to pressure over recent raids in California.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws" Schapiro said, and that the president's appointees would be expected to "review their policies with that in mind."

The statements this month from the White House and the Attorney General were greeted with relief and jubilation by patients and advocates across the country.

"Americans for Safe Access welcomes President Obama's continued pledge to end federal interference with state medical marijuana laws," said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Government Affairs. "These statements reflect a sea change in federal policy."

ASA, the nation's largest medical cannabis advocacy organization, sent policy recommendations aimed at harmonizing federal and state law and encouraging research to President Obama and Congress earlier this year. More than 72 million Americans live in a state that has enacted laws that authorize the limited use and distribution of cannabis for therapeutic use.

"We look forward to working with the President and his Administration to enact long-term policies that support safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research," said Woodson.

While fierce federal opposition to state medical cannabis programs begun during the Clinton Administration, which threatened to sanction any physicians who even spoke with their patients about the therapeutic potential of cannabis before being rebuffed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the First Amendment rights of doctors in such cases. Under Clinton, civil court action was taken to shut down medical cannabis dispensing collectives.

The Bush Administration pursued a more aggressive policy, raiding medical cannabis dispensaries throughout California, brining criminal charges against more than 100 individuals who were in compliance with state law, and threatening commercial property owners with criminal proceedings and forfeiture of their property for renting to patient collectives. Patients in New Mexico and Colorado were also targeted, though not on a similar scale.

Obama Urged to End Intimidation of Property Owners

The Obama Administration has been asked to stop the Bush tactics of intimidating California commercial property owners who rent to patient collectives that provide medical marijuana.

Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) sent a letter last month to incoming U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, decrying threats by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office against property owners that lease space to state-sanctioned medical marijuana providers. The letter was prepared with assistance from ASA's Washington office.

Since the summer of 2007, the DEA has sent letters to at least 300 landlords in California threatening federal criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture if they continue to lease to medical marijuana dispensaries. The Department of Justice had not acted on the DEA threats until early January, when property owners in Capps' district of Santa Barbara received an ultimatum -- evict their tenants by February 21, or face legal jeopardy.

Capps letter urges the new administration "to act swiftly to suspend the enforcement threats against the property owners in California who are in compliance with local and state law."

Though licensed under a Santa Barbara city ordinance, since the threatening letters were first sent in 2007, most of the dispensaries in Santa Barbara have been evicted by their landlords or have closed voluntarily to avoid legal problems.

Caren Woodson, Director of Governmental AffairsCaren Woodson, Director of Governmental Affairs

"We applaud Representative Capps' leadership in opposing DEA intimidation," said Caren Woodson, ASA Director of Government Affairs. "Given public statements by President Obama and others in his administration about changing medical marijuana policy, these tactics are completely indefensible."

ASA and other advocates estimate that approximately 400 dispensaries help provide medical marijuana to a majority of the more than 200,000 qualified patients in California. In August of 2008, State Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines recognizing the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries and offered a set of recommendation for how such facilities could comply with state law. In 2005, the California Board of Equalization began collecting tax on the sale of medical marijuana, a revenue source for the state budget estimated by ASA at more than $100 million.

Congress Asks DEA to End Monopoly on Medical Marijuana Research

Sixteen Members of Congress Urge Attorney General Holder to change DEA policy

More medical cannabis will be available for research soon, if members of Congress have their way.

After lobbying by ASA, Sixteen members of Congress sent a letter last month to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to act "swiftly to amend or withdraw" an order that significantly curtails medical marijuana research in the United States.

At issue is a 2001 request by a University of Massachusetts, Amherst researcher, Dr. Lyle Craker, to grow pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for federally approved research studies. Currently, many approved studies are unable to proceed for lack of research materials. In February of 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that monopoly should end because expanded medical marijuana research is "in the public interest." The DEA sat on the ruling for nearly two years before rejecting it less than one week before the new administration took office.

For more than forty years, the government has given the University of Mississippi a monopoly on cultivating marijuana for medical research. Not only is this arrangement unlike that for any other controlled substance regulated by the federal government, no other country restricts research in this way.

The Congressional letter authored by John Olver (D-MA) notes the broad scientific and political support for Craker's proposal: "Forty-five members of the House of Representatives and Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, as well as a broad range of scientific, medical and public health organizations including the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation have all written to DEA in support of Professor Craker's efforts."

In her 87-page Opinion and Recommended Ruling, Administrative Law Judge Bittner concluded that the quality and quantity of marijuana supplied by NIDA was inadequate for the level of research that cannabis deserves.

The ACLU, which represents Professor Craker in this matter, is requesting reconsideration and an opportunity to respond to new evidence used by the DEA in its decision.

Maryland Lawmaker Backs State Medical Marijuana Study

Patients, advocates call Maryland law inadequate, seek changes

Maryland has edged one step closer to expanding a state medical marijuana law that advocates say is too limited.

With assistance from ASA, Maryland State Delegate Henry Heller (D-Montgomery County) introduced legislation in February that creates a task force to study the issue.

The bill, HB 1339, would require the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to staff a Governor-appointed task force to evaluate whether the current state law is effective, fair, and equally enforced across all state jurisdictions, among other issues.

Tony BowlesTony Bowles

"Maryland's medical marijuana law is broken," said Tony Bowles, a spokesperson with the Montgomery County Chapter of Americans for Safe Access. "People suffering from serious or chronic conditions are still vulnerable to arrest and prosecution, and are left without a safe, secure way to access physician-recommended medical marijuana."

The Maryland state legislature passed the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act in 2002, requiring state and municipal courts to consider a a physician's recommendation for medical use of cannabis to be a "mitigating factor" in marijuana-related state prosecutions. The law permits an affirmative defense in state court, yet qualified patients may still be convicted and fined up to $100.

Advocates say Maryland's citizens with a physician's recommendation to use marijuana are routinely arrested, prosecuted, and, in some cases, fined more than the statutory $100 limit.

"Maryland's qualified patients in Maryland should not be forced to break the law and use the illicit market to access to the medicine their doctors recommend," said Bowles.

Thirteen other states, containing more than 72 million people, have passed laws authorizing patients living with a serious or chronic condition to use physician-recommended marijuana free from criminal prosecution.

The Maryland chapters of Americans For Safe Access have been working with patients and their supporters bring similar protections to their state.

"Every year, Maryland wastes precious law enforcement resources to investigate, arrest and prosecute scores of people who legitimately use medical cannabis," said Bowles. "We applaud Delegate Heller's proposal and hope this task force will put science above politics, paving the way for much needed changes to a flawed medical marijuana law."

Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee for the First Time Ever, 4-3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
MARCH 4, 2009

Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee for the First Time Ever, 4-3

Patients, Supporters Hail Passage as Important Step to Protecting Seriously Ill Who Use Doctor-Recommended Medical Marijuana

CONTACT: Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747 ex. 2030

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS — The Illinois House Human Services Committee passed a bipartisan bill today, 4-3, that would allow seriously ill patients with certain debilitating conditions who have their doctors’ recommendations to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest. A companion bill, SB 1381, is sponsored by three-term former state's attorney Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) in the Illinois Senate and is expected to receive a hearing in the Senate Public Health Committee next Tuesday.

    HB 2514, the House medical marijuana bill, is sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

    Although this isn't the first time a medical marijuana bill was introduced in the Illinois House, this is the first time a House committee passed such a bill. Advocates hope state lawmakers will note that 63 percent of Michigan voters approved a similar law last November and that a 2008 statewide poll shows 68 percent support among Illinois voters for such a law.

    "Doctors need every safe, effective medicine available to them when treating patients with serious conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Jay Riseman, a Springfield physician who testified before the committee today. "I've seen medical marijuana work for patients when nothing else did, and I should be able to recommend it to my patients without leaving them vulnerable to arrest and even jail."

    With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####

Location: 
IL
United States

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