Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

Senate passes medical marijuana legislation, sends measure to Quinn

| 20 Comments | No TrackBacks

MEDICAL_MARIJUANA_LLINOIS_39164071.JPGSen. William Haine (D-Alton) argues Thursday for his legislation to legalize medical marijuana, which passed the Senate 35-21 and now moves to Gov. Pat Quinn. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

SPRINGFIELD-The idea of Illinoisans turning to pot to treat severe illnesses moved closer to reality Friday after the Illinois Senate approved the medicinal use of marijuana over GOP objections it would encourage more serious drug use.

The Senate's 35-21 vote, which followed an emotional debate that lasted more than 90 minutes, moves the legislation carried by state Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) to Gov. Pat Quinn.

"We are confident a strict, controlled implementation of this for those who suffer pain with the diseases and conditions listed in the act can be well served," Haine said. "Many of us have anecdotal evidence of the value of this. Doctors' groups have endorsed this, nurses.

"It is a substance, which is much more benign than, for example, powerful prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and the rest. The scourge of these drugs is well known. This is not true of the medical use of marijuana," said Haine, a former state's attorney from Downstate Madison County.

The governor has said he is "open-minded" toward the measure, which if enacted would make Illinois the 19th state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Quinn's office offered no hint of its intentions with the legislation Friday, saying only that the governor intends to "review" the plan.

"The administration has been involved in this," Haine said. "He's not made a public commitment, but I hope when he sees this debate and he hears of the exchange in the House and Senate, his comfort level will be raised."

Friday's roll call came together on the strength of mostly Democratic votes, though three Republicans joined in supporting Haines' legislation, as well. They were Sens. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) and Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).

Senate Democrats who voted against the bill were Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), Gary Forby (D-Benton), Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmoor), Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield).

"You all know full well the effects marijuana has on the body," said Hunter, a certified drug and alcohol counselor. "All they did was put 'medical' in front of marijuana. It's still a drug."

Under Haine's four-year pilot program, users would have to suffer from one of 42 named ailments or diseases, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and ALS, and have a doctor's prescription before they would be allowed to purchase and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana during a 14-day period.

The plan would authorize 22 growers across Illinois and permit 60 dispensaries where users could purchase the plant.

Users, growers and sellers would have to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Employers and landlords could bar medicinal marijuana use in their workplaces and buildings. And, users would have to undergo field sobriety tests if police suspect they are driving under the influence of medical cannabis and could lose their driving privileges and privileges to use pot for their illnesses.

"This thing is filed with one check after the other on the possibility of abuse," Haine said. "It allows cultivation of this substance, which can relieve the terrible pains suffered by people. And they won't have to go to the dark side to get it. It'll be grown here in Illinois, not somewhere else."

The plan is opposed by the Illinois Sheriffs' Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Illinois State Police remained neutral, leaving no law-enforcement agency in support of Haine's legislation

One by one, opponents stood to predict the state couldn't adequately regulate or police a new marijuana growing and distribution industry that would provide approved users 13 joints a day, and that the drug's legally accepted use would encourage people to turn toward more illicit narcotics.

In one of the debate's most moving moments, state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) choked up noting that the pain of an ill patient who might benefit from marijuana is miniscule compared to the pain of a parent who loses a child from drug abuse. McCarter's 21-year-old daughter died from an accidental drug overdose.

"For every touching story we've heard about the benefits to those in pain, I remind you today that there are a thousand times more parents who'll never be relieved from the pain of losing a child due to addiction, which in many cases started with the very illegal, FDA-unapproved, addiction-forming drug that you are asking us to make a normal part of our communities," McCarter told his colleagues, his voice breaking. "As one of those dads, I ask you to vote no."

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


Its wrong to make a drug illegal just because someone may abuse it. The father is completely off base. You should not condemn thousands of people to ever lasting pain just because his daughter became addicted.

Acknowledging right off the bat that I don't know anything of Senator McCarter's circumstance, I wonder if his daughter may have been better off in a world where drugs are verified for purity and distributed through scrupulous sources rather than the black market that prohibition mandates. Overdose is often a attributable to purity differences or scarcity of substance leading to combining substances or over imbibing. Overdose is a major reason for prohibition repeal, not against.

Another method to escape my miserable life created smoke if you got em

If we really wanted to curb drug usage, we would be investing heavily into more mental treatment facilities and substance abuse treatment programs to help indivdiuals through their problems that cause them to be a addict. We often blame the substance for people becoming addicted to them, but it is usually something drove them to that drug. That something could be mental, stress, or whatever. That is why mental treatment programs are important. Controlling a substance has been proven costly and whereas treating it differently has turned out better for people's lives all around.

It is time to re-address this problem and deal with the problem instead of making it a criminal issue when it isn't a criminal issue.

I don't need to know anything about this guy's daughter to know that it wasn't weed that killed his daughter.... Wamp Wamp

You cannot become addicted to marijuana. You cannot die from it either. It should be just as strict as alcohol, no smoking and driving. And what is recreational use anyway??

Addictive gateway drug? What is this, 1980?

Adderol, Xanax, Adivan, Klonopin are more addictive, easier to get your hands on, and will cause damage, and can kill you. In fact they're very widely prescribed. Describe an event resembling a panic attack, and you'll get one of those benzos. Adderol is just plain evil.

Pot leads to two things, hilarious megalomaniacal conversations, and bad dietary decisions.

If you're going to 'splinter' off to something more powerful.. You have deeper problems than 'addiction'. And the pot didn't cause any of them, they were there to begin with.

The one issue I do have, is having some kind of standard as to how potent the pot you buy really is. I'm not saying you have potential to OD, or anything. But there are some people like myself, who can't smoke the strong, or even mild stuff. I get panic attacks. I don't even smoke it any more because of that.

It doesn't happen to everyone, but there are people like me who experience that. And it's not pleasant, by any means. The sensation of your heart feeling like it's about to explode, labored breathing.. not fun.

Ask the Dad waht about the countless people having access to the poision we call liqour. When they make liqour illegal that is when I want to hear all these idiots complain about this ever beneficial plant that the governemnt is just using to get rich. Free the cannabis. Stop the liqour sales and bars that is what kills and leads to other drug use. In the US liqour is the biggst most widely available drug. Ruined the native americans...and the rest of the US culture.

Pot does not lead to addiction, stupidity does..If you compare the numbers of accidents by pot only the numbers are very low, compared to the ACCIDENTS and DEATHS caused by ALCOHOL COCAINE CRACK and various pain killers. there is a very large number of people who do those drugs but they dont smoke pot.DUH I have never heard of anybody who over dosed from smoking pot. The only thing i can tell you at this point is these armchair BULLIES need to get with the times.

"You all know full well the effects marijuana has on the body," said Hunter, a certified drug and alcohol counselor. "All they did was put 'medical' in front of marijuana. It's still a drug."

What is it we know? Or what is it You know? Very vague answer from a "certified" counselor.

My condolences go out the Senator and any other family who has lost someone. I too have lost an immediate family member. I listened as my parents and siblings argued and bickered over this topic. In my case my parents blamed my kid brothers smoking pot for moving him to harder drugs. They failed to acknowledge they were so busy with their own lives they missed every signal at every step of my baby brothers addiction. Even from hundreds of miles away I could hear and feel his pain and depression. His cries for help reverberated through his voice and emails. Yet to this day those who were around him find something or someone else to blame. In the years since his death I have suffered from debilitating arthritic pain. I am unable to take medication for it due to a heart issue. Instead I lie there many nights agonizing. The idea of being able to be in a controlled safe environment such as my home and have available to me a source of relief is something I strongly support. As for those who blame the death of a loved one on marijuana; take a real hard look within yourself to see if you truly believe some organic plant is to blame. Please do not deny me relief rather then face the reality of what happened.

PARDON ME, but they can't control (regulate) drinking and driving either! They've tried everything from roadblocks to asking the public to turn people in. Nor can they seem to be able to regulate prescription drug abuses. So if we're going to use that for a criteria, why don't we outlaw booze and painkillers as well?

the 21 people who voted against this are under-educated and don't understand the benefits of cannabis and the marijuana plant as a whole.

Medical pot just like CA. We can put a man on the moon but this is the best we can do? I think not. However it will seduce us lower. Here in Will Co. we have a HUGE heroine problem. The dealers like to LACE THE POT W/HEROINE.

You want to open up the RX market, there are alot of other things that could be done then starting up another pot state gone amuck.

But then here in America, it pays big pharma/insurance to be sick.

Just legalize it altogether. People with medical cards will get prescriptions for this just like they do for pain pills now and sell for profit at the expense of taxpayers!

Weed is a plant that is grown and it is much better than all the pills a person takes for pain. Wich we all know can lead to problems with your kidneys liver and so on.can someone please tell me when they heard of anyone overdosing or passing away from weed.

Weed is a plant that is grown and it is much better than all the pills a person takes for pain. Wich we all know can lead to problems with your kidneys liver and so on.can someone please tell me when they heard of anyone overdosing or passing away from weed.

"...could lose their...privileges to use pot for their illnesses."

Gov. Quinn. Please demand this part be taken out of the bill before you sign it. It just makes IL law makers look dumb. Since when is taking a prescribed medicine a privilege?

I am not the smartest guy in the room but if cigarette smoke is bad for your health, how is marijuana smoke safe? You can say that these people have debilitating and terminal discease processes so who cares but I would think the we wouldn't want to complicate medical conditions with the damaging effects. Where is the science on the benign or ill effects on marijuana smoke?

It is time for reason, compassion, and science to carry the day. Trading some Oxycontin prescriptions for medical marijuana prescriptions is a win-win for patients and law enforcement.

The opponents of medical marijuana often have trouble accepting a medicine that is smoked. Real medicine comes in pills and injections they observe. Why should this be different with pot? This is some serious cultural baggage for medical advocates.

The effect of smoking is immediate and won't go away, but it can also be simmered in butter or oil and used in baked good and the like. Imagine your parent or grand parent stricken by cancer, MS, or Parkinson's eating a brownie and feeling better in an hour.

Leave a comment