Former talk show host and U.S. Navy officer Montel Williams met with members of the Illinois House of Representatives this week to urge them to vote in favor of SB1381, a bill that would make Illinois the 16th state in the nation to allow chronically-ill patients to use marijuana with the recommendation of their doctor. Williams was diagnosed 10 years ago with multiple sclerosis, and has since become a traveling advocate for legalizing medical marijuana, which he says alleviates his pain and tremors from the condition.
Although the Senate narrowly passed the bill by a vote of 30 to 28, with 1 "present" vote, last year, it caused an impassioned, shouting floor speech this week by its sponsor, state Rep. Lou Lang. The Democrat from Skokie, Ill., was cheered by medical patients who had crowded the House gallery overhead.
The measure then failed on a 53-59-1 vote. Sixty affirmative votes were needed for its passage.
The bill being debated would have allowed patients to grow marijuana themselves; it wouldn't let doctors dispense it. Patients would also have to obtain the plants from a state-sanctioned supplier.
Supporters suggest the measure is about alleviating suffering among patients, who would be allowed to smoke or ingest marijuana only in their homes.
Critics assert it opens the door to legalizing recreational usage.
On Wednesday, Nov. 24, Iowa Board of Pharmacy members drew up a bill for Iowa legislators to consider in January 2011, that would reclassify marijuana as a schedule II drug. Currently considered a schedule I drug in Iowa, this recommendation, if enacted, would open its use for medicinal purposes like other prescription drugs.
According to a Nov. 29 release from the Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C., 15 states and Washington, D.C., have passed medical marijuana laws since 1996, and more than a dozen others considered such laws in 2010.
My appeal is not for legalizing the recreational usage of marijuana.
Let me clarify: I do not use marijuana, and I have no desire to.
But, over the years, I have encountered people who have suffered great pain with their respective diseases. I've also witnessed a terminal hospice patient's relief at the ingestion of a few drops of medically-prescribed morphine. Perhaps medical marijuana use could provide the same relief for those individuals coping with the life-altering symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.
Probably like you, I've also heard about people who have abused "the system."
Though I may question the processes employed at times, my mind cannot grasp such illegal activity.
While I believe this matter deserves further consideration by Iowa legislators, I am also of the opinion that strict rules and regulations need to be incorporated in whatever is passed.