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Unfortunately, the Illinois legislature adjourned for the summer without calling Senate Bill 1381 for a vote. The next potential time for the Illinois House of Representatives to vote on this much needed legislation is November or January. However, the sponsor of the bill, State Representative Lou Lang has stated many times that he intends to call this bill for a vote when he knows that it has enough votes to pass. A few lawmakers in the weeks and days before the legislative session ended expressed their desires to see this bill pass but would not commit to voting yes on it. If we could have picked up these commitments then we might have been able to get the bill to Gov. Quinn’s desk. We could use more support and help in these lawmakers’ districts so if you or anyone you know lives in these areas please ask them to contact their State Representative about supporting SB 1381. The districts that we are working on include Arlington Heights, Dekalb, and Peoria. Also, please contact your State Representative and ask them why this bill was put on the back burner once again and why Illinois did not join the other 14 states in allowing medical cannabis.
May 5, 2010, Springfield, IL: State Senator William Haine (D-Alton) and Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) announced late Wednesday afternoon a breakthrough in the General Assembly’s attempt to enact a bill permitting physicians to recommend patients use medical cannabis to treat their illnesses.
Haine met with Captain Timothy Becker of the Illinois State Police earlier and Becker informed him that the Illinois Department of State Police had changed its position of opposition to Senate Bill 1381, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The State Police are now neutral and will no longer oppose the passage of the bill which is on Third Reading in the House.
Lang said he “was extremely gratified by the Department’s change. We have crafted the most thoughtful, thorough and toughest bill in the nation. This legislation is intended to alleviate pain in people suffering debilitating medical conditions,” he said.
Haine said he believed the Department changed its position after carefully reviewing the legislation and considering the safeguards it encompasses that are designed to protect patients, caregivers and the public.
Haine also noted that in a number of states, police organizations have removed their objections after a period of observing their laws in operation.
“As a former State’s Attorney, I have the greatest respect for the police organizations of our State and local governments. This change of position demonstrates what we have known all along, and that is that our State police organization is focused first and foremost on criminal activities as it relates to illegal substances,” Haine said.
“The State Police’s compassion for the seriously ill matches our own, Lang noted. No one should be denied medicine that might improve the quality of their life,” Lang concluded.
Illinois State Representatives are scheduled to meet next week, May 24-28, in Springfield to work on passing a budget for Illinois. It is up to us to tell them that they must not adjourn for the summer without protecting medical cannabis patients in Illinois. Please contact your State Representative in their district office and their Springfield office and urge them to pass Senate Bill 1381, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act as soon as possible.
We are pleased to announce our medical cannabis lobbying days when we can have a table setup for lawmakers to meet with patients and medical cannabis supporters.
The February 18,2010 lobbying day went very well. We were able to meet with and educate many Illinois State Representatives. Senate Bill 1381 picked up another Co-Sponsor and the local news covered the event too. Plus, simply our presence at the Capitol let the lawmakers in Springfield know that medical cannabis patients are everyday Americans and deserve safe and legal access to this medicine.
March 16 went very well, we had more patients and supporters than before and we are getting closer and closer to passing Senate Bill 1381. Please keep contacting your State Representative’s offices and let them know how much support there is for medical cannabis in Illinois. Call their district and Capitol offices and ask to setup a meeting with them to discuss this bill.
May 7, 2010 is the next lobbying day and hopefully we can get even more patients, doctors, and advocates at the Capitol supporting Senate Bill 1381. The event will take place from 9AM-5PM on each day and we will be located on the first floor in the South hall. It is crucial that our supporters are respectful and are there to educate and build relationships with the lawmakers not to hold a protest or become disruptive. If you can attend one of these days please let us know that you will be joining us so that we can keep you up to date with the details, and if you cannot attend please be sure to call your State Representative on those days at 217-782-2000. You can email your State Representative in support of medical cannabis in Illinois here.
On our medical cannabis lobbying days we will have a two tables setup in the South hall on the first floor of the Capitol Building in Springfield and will have patients there to meet with people. We also plan to have folks going to State Representatives’ offices in the Stratton Building, connected via an underground tunnel, giving them info on supporting medical cannabis in Illinois. If you can attend please dress nice and act polite. Plus, call your State Representative’s office ahead of time and let them know you will be at the Capitol for the day.
– Rich Whitney: “I support legalization of marijuana, period.”
-- Lex Green: "As Governor, I will sign legislation, if any, that legalizes cannabis."
– Pat Quinn: “People who are seriously ill deserve access to all medical treatments that will help them.”
– Bill Brady: “Legalizing medical marijuana appears to me to be nothing more than moving us down the slope of legalizing marijuana.”
The American Medical Association has changed its official position on medical cannabis. The largest doctors organization in America is now calling for a review of cannabis as a schedule one substance. Schedule one substances are reserved only for the most dangerous and addictive substances with no accepted medical use. Currently, 14 states legally protects patients who use cannabis with their doctor’s recommendation. Illinois is not one of them but hopefully lawmakers will see this as yet another indication that cannabis is a medicine and sick people are not criminals.
There are many ways that supporters of medical cannabis in Illinois can help protect patients in Illinois who use cannabis with the recommendation of their doctor.
- The best way is to lobby (email, phone calls, written letters & face to face visits) your State Representative and urge them to vote YES on Senate Bill 1381. If they are supportive, ask them to cosponsor this legislation. If they are a cosponsor ask them to write a letter to a local newspaper calling on their fellow lawmakers to pass this legislation. Call 217-782-2000 and ask the operator to connect you to your State Representative’s office, then tell your State Rep. to “VOTE YES on Senate Bill 1381.” Please be polite and call their district office too.
- Write a letter to your local newspaper voicing your support for Senate Bill 1381. Please keep these letters short (less than 300 words) and follow the guidelines that the newspaper lists for submitting letters to the editor. Illinois Media Contacts
- Tell others to support the medical cannabis legislation like you have.
- Organize a town hall, public forum to discuss the medical cannabis legislation and invite your local legislators.
- Contact your county medical society or association and ask them to endorse the medical cannabis legislation.
On October 19, 2009 the Obama Administration formally issued guidelines directing federal authorities not to interfere with states that have passed medical cannabis programs. Now that this is in writing, it further indicates that states can enact medical cannabis programs as they wish. Illinois residents and legislators should see this as a clear message that the federal government will not interfere with those who follow the pending legislation, should it pass. The only people the federal government will now target for arrest are those who are breaking the medical cannabis law of their state.