Health care providers and medical marijuana patients and supporters reacted to Senate defeat of medical marijuana legislation by vowing to renew the fight. SB 650, sponsored by Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), failed by a vote of 22-29, with four voting “present.”
The bill failed despite active support from more than 900 Illinois doctors, 300 nurses and 50 clergy members, as well as the Illinois Nurses Association and the Chicago AIDS Foundation.
“I am saddened to hear that the bill did not make it out of the Senate,” said Gretchen Steele of Coulterville. “As a registered nurse, I know that research and science support this legislation. As a multiple sclerosis patient, I feel slighted and have to wonder where our legislators’ hearts are on this day.”
“There is no logical reason to not have an implementable medical marijuana law in this state,” said Dr. David Ostrow, Chicago physician, HIV/AIDS researcher and founder/director of the Medical Marijuana Advocacy Project. “The medical community strongly supported this bill, but our lawmakers unfortunately did not listen to the scientific evidence for medical marijuana’s safety and efficacy this time around. I hope that someday soon, medicine, not politics, will prevail in Illinois and at the national level as well.”
“We are not going to abandon the patients, doctors and nurses who have worked so hard to protect the sick and suffering,” said Ray Warren, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “Science, compassion and simple common sense say this is the right thing to do. We’ll be back.”
Medical marijuana laws are on the books in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Recent studies have demonstrated that marijuana relieves a type of debilitating nerve pain that commonly afflicts AIDS patients, and that medical marijuana use is associated with improved treatment adherence and increased cure rates for hepatitis C.
With more than 21,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.