On Friday, May 17, the Illinois Senate debated House Bill 1, which would legalize the use of marijuana for qualifying chronically ill Illinois residents. According to State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) the controversial legislation passed the Senate by a narrow margin of 35-21-0 on May 17.
“I have a huge amount of compassion for the people that this legislation is intended to help, but I think we’re going about it in the wrong way,” said Brady who cited the regulatory concerns committee he heard during the testimony of members of the law enforcement and medical communities as contributing factors in his decision to vote against the legislation.
House Bill 1 would allow a patient who has been issued a special registry identification card by the Department of Public Health to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis during a 14 day period. The measure lists a number of qualifying diseases and illnesses, but does not include general eligibility for chronic pain or nausea.
Opponents to the legislation expressed discomfort over the establishment of a separate regulatory structure for medical marijuana. The bill sets out criteria for medical marijuana cultivation centers and medical marijuana dispensing organizations. The dispensing organizations would be required to register with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). IDFPR would be allowed to approve up to 60 dispensaries.
“I wish we could provide some comfort to people with painful chronic illnesses, but I don’t like the precedent that we’re setting by setting up a separate regulatory structure for medical marijuana,” said Brady. “I think this is an issue that needs to be dealt with on the federal level instead of a piecemeal state-by-state approach.”