Politics Trump Public Opinion, Medicine in Illinois Medical Marijuana Debate

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois General Assembly is currently debating the merit of adding itself to the ranks of 13 states that permit doctor-prescribed medical marijuana for seriously and terminally ill patients.

If the merit of medical marijuana and public support are the only considerations, the legislature will approve

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) at a recent press conference arguing in favor of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) at a recent press conference arguing in favor of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana

the legislation—of which I am the chief sponsor in the House and of which Senator Bill Haine is the Senate sponsor. If politics and demagoguery dominate, lawmakers will reject the idea. Unfortunately, politics and demagoguery currently have the upper hand.

Numerous medical organizations support legal medical marijuana access for the seriously ill, including the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, the Illinois Nurses Association, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Studies have shown, in the case of chemotherapy patients, that marijuana relieves debilitating symptoms including nausea, appetite loss, and severe pain. It has been shown to increase the chances that HIV/AIDs and hepatitis C patients will stay on life-saving medications.

And marijuana is safe. It has never caused a single medically documented overdose death — unlike Tylenol, which causes about 500 overdose deaths a year in the U.S. alone.

Many otherwise illegal substances, such as Oxycontin and morphine, can legally be prescribed by doctors. The same should be true for marijuana, which is less dangerous and addictive than either of these substances.

Moreover, many of the legal alternatives proposed by opponents of medical marijuana are too expensive, too addictive, and have too many side effects to be good medicine for all patients.

Beyond the medical value, Medical marijuana is also a popular issue in Illinois.

Illinois residents favor allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes by a 68-27 percent margin according to a new poll. The poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Inc. surveyed 625 randomly selected registered Illinois voters between Feb. 9 and Feb. 16.

Support is strong across the state. Voter support range from 70 percent in Chicago to 65 percent in downstate regions. And the use of medical marijuana by seriously ill patients has majority voter support among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike.

Ultimately, the decision of what medicine is best for an illness should be left up to the patient and the doctor, not to police and prosecutors. The choice of Illinois lawmakers is simple: legalize medical marijuana.

Lou Lang

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One Response

  1. Thanks Lou.

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