SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – And now there are 21.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana on Thursday, making it the 21st state to nullify the federal prohibition on weed.
The bill allows doctors to prescribe up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks to patients suffering from 21 illnesses, including cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Patients will be able to buy medical marijuana from one of 60 licensed dispensing centers. The new law does not allow patients to grow their own. The state will register 22 cultivation centers.
The Illinois House passed the bill 61-57. The Senate approved the measure 35-21.
A military veteran joined Quinn at the signing ceremony at the University of Chicago. Jim Champion suffers from multiple sclerosis and shared how marijuana helps reduce his pain. His wife indicated it allows her husband to cut his prescribed medication in half. He said he was glad he would no longer have to break the law to get relief.
“Now, we’re going to be offered a safer and more effective alternative to pain and spasm relief than the pharmaceuticals that we’ve been given by the bucket loads in the past,” he said. “I’ve always been ashamed that I was criminalized by the actions that I was forced to take for my pain relief.”
Quinn said the law represents an act of compassion.
“I feel that this is something, whatever faith we practice, we all believe that helping those who are sick, helping them recover and also helping them deal with pain. That’s a tenet in every faith and every religion,” he said. “So we’re really, I think, doing the right thing in Illinois.”
The feds disagree. In fact, they still brand Champion, and thousands like him, criminals.Details