The governor has said he will keep an open mind on medicinal marijuana legislation which Friday made it to his desk. The Illinois Senate voted 35-21 today in approving a four-year pilot program which boasts of being the most restrictive prescription marijuana program in the nation. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia already allow medical pot. The measure had already passed the Illinois House.
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“This bill is filled with walls to keep this limited,” said the sponsor, State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton). “We have learned from California and Colorado and Michigan and other states … most of them have done it sloppily.” The bill carries a list of 33 diseases for which marijuana can be prescribed, limits the number of growers and dispensers, and requires evidence of a bona fide doctor-patient relationship.
Some lawmakers pointed out legalized prescription drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin are easily abused. Another, State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), noted the casual attitude of some doctors. “To every adult woman here who’s worried about being a little tired or losing a little weight, (a doctor will say) ‘pop that Ritalin, it’ll do the trick for you.’ So don’t tell me that one is not abused,” Holmes said to some knowing applause.
Some cannot reconcile themselves to the idea this illegal substance can be used for good with no ill effects on society. State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) said marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs, the abuse of which takes countless kids away from their parents. “As one of those dads, I ask you to vote no,” McCarter said, fighting back tears.
The governor has said for most of this year that his priority is stabilizing the state’s pension systems, so it would not be a surprise if he waited on a bill such as this one until something comes together on pensions.