Marijuana has been in the decriminalization process since 1973 with many states over the years passing laws to either authorize the use of marijuana or prohibit it. It is time to stop treating marijuana like a deadly drug, when science and public opinion agree that it is relatively safe for adult recreational and medical use. With recreational and medical marijuana on the verge of nationwide legalization, marijuana growers and dispensaries are popping up everywhere.
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Days after passing a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, the Illinois Senate approved legislation making Illinois’ medical marijuana program permanent.
The program, put into place in 2013, is set to expire next summer.
Senate Bill 2023, approved Sunday by the Senate and by the House on Saturday, also would expand the list of medical conditions where patients could use marijuana for relief. The additions include migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and anorexia nervosa. The list of conditions would increase to 54 different ailments.
Now, only doctors can certify a patient’s eligibility for medicinal marijuana. If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants would be able to as well.
Sen. Laura Fine, a Glenview Democrat, said medicinal marijuana changed her husband’s life “tremendously” after his arm was amputated when a truck hit his car.
She described his pain as “so debilitating” at times that he can’t get out of bed.
“Prior to the medicinal cannabis program being put in place, he relied on narcotics,” Fine said on the Senate floor. “Taking a narcotic takes everything away from you.”
Other lawmakers told personal stories in support of the bill.
During Saturday’s House floor debate, Republican Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who voted for Senate Bill 2023, said he has come “full circle” on the issue since it was first brought to the chamber years ago.
The convincing moment for him came two years ago, when a family whose son “basically turned into a zombie” because of the epileptic conditions he was facing came to him about a product derived from cannabis they said could help him.
Durkin said the product brought the family comfort and allowed them to live a “full life.”
“I think about that as a moment where we actually gave relief to a family, but also many other families, as they brought their stories to me about terrible, epileptic moments that they’ve had in their lives,” Durkin said. “I’m a father with a daughter that has a health condition. I am glad to help that family to bring them relief. I hope that someday, someone can do that for my daughter. So that’s what I think about.”
Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, told legislators his mother suffers from a “variety of conditions” and was addicted to many opiates opiates over the years.
“Then she discovered medical cannabis,” he said. “I have my mother back now. She’s in a much better condition now. … She’s in a better mental state.”
Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, said during House floor debate the bill would stabilize Illinois’ medical cannabis program, which has about 60,000 participants.
The 11 conditions added in the bill were all approved by the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, Morgan said.
“This is a program that I fought for for a very long time,” he said. “There are tens of thousands of patients in Illinois that are relying on us to get this done, to stabilize and continue to extend this program for them.”
This article was first published on https://www.cannabisimp.com.