Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Medical marijuana bill clears Illinois Senate
Political prospects in House hazy
By John Patterson and Dan Carden | Daily Herald Staff
print story
email story
Published: 5/28/2009 12:02 AM

Send To:





SPRINGFIELD - With the help of key suburban votes, a plan to let those suffering from certain medical ailments and conditions use marijuana cleared the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

The plan was approved 30-28 in the 59-member chamber, garnering the bare minimum of votes needed.

"This is not recreational," said state Sen. Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat who has multiple sclerosis. She said the issue is helping people with debilitating conditions improve their quality of life.

"It is long overdue," said Holmes, one of five area Democrats to vote "yes."

The ailments or conditions spelled out in the proposed law for legal use of marijuana include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's, epileptic seizures and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.

Under the plan, patients and a primary caregiver would register and be allowed to purchase and possess up to two ounces of dried cannabis or up to six marijuana plants, obtained through a medical cannabis organization.

"One of the purposes of this bill is to avoid the situation where someone suffering has to go through the criminal element to buy this marijuana substance," said state Sen. Bill Haine, the sponsor of the plan. The Alton Democrat is a former state's attorney.

Haine said the issue is before the General Assembly because there are doctors who believe this works and are prescribing it.

"I didn't invent this," Haine said.

Opponents said they were concerned that legalizing medical marijuana would turn Illinois into California, where "medical" marijuana is widely available.

"Under his bill that card from California is good here in Illinois. That's not right; we can do it better," said state Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican.

State Sen. Tim Bivins, a Dixon Republican, argued that if marijuana is going to be used as a drug, it should be regulated like a drug.

"There's no attention to quality control. There's no attention to dosage amount," Bivins said, reading off the manufacturer, expiration date, and lot number from a bottle of aspirin to emphasize his point. "It has a lot of information on this tiny little bottle. This is not something you will get by growing marijuana at home"

But state Sen. Mike Jacobs, an East Moline Democrat, said that he thought some senators protested too much.

"There's some of us in this chamber that would prefer OxyContin, morphine, mother's little helper, uppers, downers, all-arounders. This is the most hypocritical debate this General Assembly has ever indulged in," said Jacobs, who voted "yes."

As voting opened the plan was a single vote short of approval. The roll call was left open a bit longer and at the last second state Sen. Antonio Munoz, a Chicago Democrat, went from "present" to "yes," giving the proposal the vote it needed. State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, a Chicago Democrat, voted "present."

The plan's immediate future is uncertain. Given how long it's taken to build support in the Senate, Haine told reporters Wednesday that it's unlikely to get a vote this spring in the Illinois House. Lawmakers are trying to wrap up business and adjourn before May 31.

How your lawmakers voted

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Senate narrowly approved legislation that would permit the use of marijuana for specific medical ailments. The vote was 30-28 with one member voting present. It now advances to the Illinois House for consideration.

Local senators voting yes:

Don Harmon, Oak Park Democrat

Linda Holmes, Aurora Democrat

Dan Kotowski, Park Ridge Democrat

Terry Link, Waukegan Democrat

Arthur "AJ" Wilhelmi, Joliet Democrat

Local senators voting no:

Pamela J. Althoff, McHenry Republican

Michael Bond, Grayslake Democrat

Dan Cronin, Elmhurst Republican

Kirk W. Dillard, Hinsdale Republican

Dan Duffy, Lake Barrington Republican

Susan Garrett, Lake Forest Democrat

Randall M. Hultgren, Winfield Republican

Chris Lauzen, Aurora Republican

John J. Millner, Carol Stream Republican

Matt Murphy, Palatine Republican

Michael Noland, Elgin Democrat

Carole Pankau, Itasca Republican

Source: Senate roll call, SB1381