Medical Marijuana Vote Expected Soon
Supporters say it could offer relief for some of the most serious medical conditions. But opponents argue it opens the door for addiction and abuse.
State lawmakers are expected to vote soon on whether or not to allow Illinois residents to use marijuana for medical purposes.
The bill allows people who are diagnosed with a "debilitating" medical condition, like cancer, to use marijuana if their doctors recommend it. They could have up to 2.5 ounces during a two-week period, and they would get an ID card from the Department of Public Health.
Rep. Lou Lang is sponsoring the proposal. Today, he and a handful of medical patients are urging lawmakers to vote "yes."
Paul Bachmann, who has multiple sclerosis, is one. Bachmann said he is tired of waiting to get relief from his symptoms and believes marijuana can help.
"I've seen the effect," he said. "I've felt the effects on my body. I can tell you my life has changed dramatically."
"Any time you try to legalize another drug, whether it be for medicine or recreational use, it will increase the availability, it will increase the acceptability, and more people will use it," Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol, said.
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Programs is actively lobbying against the idea. Bell pointed to research showing the risks of using marijuana and the consequences of abuse.
Lang said he's close to getting House approval for the idea. He expects a vote in the chamber next week.
Under the plan, patients would get the marijuana from specific dispensaries. The state would limit the number of offices to one in each Illinois State Police district.
The proposal also bars patients from possessing marijuana in certain locations, including public places.