ASA Gives D Grade to Illinois Medical Marijuana Law

Americans for Safe Access, the national medical marijuana patient's right organization has just released a national compilation of its evaluation of state medical marijuana laws. Although Illinois had a MMJ provision in its cannabis laws since the late 1970s, it was never more than a bit of window dressing and totally ineffective in protecting patients from prosecutors bent on running up their conviction rates. They simply ignored that part of the law, while prosecuting patients under the provisions of the law they are personally inclined to enforce.

That changed in 2013 when after years of trying, Illinois passed and Governor Quinn signed a MMJ law. While a small advance from the dreadful status patients faced previously, it is struggling to get off the ground, with significant doubts as to its ability to create improved access for patients, supply their needs at a reasonable cost, and prevent law enforcement abuse of patients.

ASA summarizes the current situation like this:

On August 1 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 1, The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act which creates a statewide distribution program for patients with one of over 35 serious medical conditions under the recommendation of their doctor.  HB 1 is very strict and does not allow for pain and does not allow patients or their caregivers to cultivate their medicine.

HB 1 allows patients to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks from one of the 60 dispensing organizations that will be supplied by the 22 cultivation centers.  Dispensing organization and cultivation centers will be regulated by The Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and will be able to produce flowers, edibles, tinctures, and topicals.  Medical cannabis will be taxed at 1%, the same rate as pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medicines.

Minors, public safety officials, school bus and commercial drivers, police and correctional officers, firefighters, and anyone convicted of a drug related felony are not allowed to be qualifying patients. The legislation includes restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed and provisions for driving under the influence.

ASA has now issued a state-by-state grade card to permit easy comparision between the few states with good laws and those who claim to benefit patients, but fall far short in reality for meeting the needs of those whose conditions could be improved or alleviated from medical use of cannabis. Sadly, Illinois could do no better than 65/100 or a mid-range D. Good luck getting into college with grades like that...

So even as it struggles to get off the ground, the Illinois MMJ program needs dramatic improvement to meet the needs of patients for affordable access to medical marijuana.

For more, see the full report available as a PDF at:

Amusingly Incompetent Reporting by News-Gazette

Long article on front page of the News-Gazette today about efforts to site medical marijuana dispensaries and grows in Central Illinois. A long time opponent of any sort of commonsense on marijauana, the paper has regularly editorialized about the topic, but its reporting is now clearly showing that ideology trumps fact when it comes to this topic.

Musing on the various onerous and frankly ridiculous requirements needed to be met by licensees, the paper somehow believes that there are very few places in this largely rural and agricultural area where cannabis could be grown legally. But wait, there's more...

What's the biggest reason marijuana might not be grown even where it's legal according to the overly restrictive state law?

Because people don't want it.

That's right. Despite polls that over a period of years have shown that somewhere around 80% or more of Illinois citizens support legal medical marijuana -- one big reason this iniatitive, as bad as it is,  finally passed -- the News-Gazette claimed that a survey of residents and business owners in Danville "showed no support for the idea."

Yeah, Danville doesn't want new jobs, despite typically boasting the highest unemployment rates in the region, often over 10%, but all of the sudden people are getting picky about what the work is? Never in a million years would the News-Gazette print such drivel about a business locating in the area -- unless it involves marijuana.

It's long been apparent that the News-Gazette caters to a self-selected elite. But pretending that their biased and anecdotal reporting somehow trumps the evidence provided by repeated, scientifically-designed and statistically-exacting public polling takes even their past bad reporting to new lows by just inventing "facts" when reality doesn't suit them.

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