Politics of Pot

Illinois bill likely to stall

The medical marijuana bill passed out of the Illinois Senate this week didn't seem likely to get a vote in the House before the legislature adjourned, but a House committee has passed it "so fast it took even its own supporters by surprise," Canna Zine News reports. "Swift committee passage is seen as greatly increasing the chances that the full House will act on the measure before the end of the legislative session May 31."

The bill now heads to the House floor.

And as one might expect, the debate so far - brought to us via Rich Miller at The Capitol Fax Blog - has been priceless.

"Of all the reasons to oppose medical marijuana, I'm not sure this one is the best," Miller writes, citing this passage from a Daily Herald article:

“There’s no attention to quality control. There’s no attention to dosage amount,” [Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon)] said, reading off the manufacturer, expiration date, and lot number from a bottle of aspirin to emphasize his point. “It has a lot of information on this tiny little bottle. This is not something you will get by growing marijuana at home.”

Miller's reaction? "Right. Because you can’t possibly monitor a plant’s quality when you’re growing it yourself."

The measure passed with the bare minimum of necessary votes when Chicago Democrat Antonio Munoz changed his vote from "present" to "yes."

Chicago Democrat Jacquelyn Collins voted "present," man.

On the other hand, East Moline Democrat Mike Jacobs wins the award for the worst argument in favor of the bill.

"God grows these seeds," Jacobs said.

"Yep," MIller writes. "And God also grows magic mushrooms, poppies, coca plants, etc."

The bill "would allow terminally ill patients to enroll in a three-year pilot program and permit the use of marijuana without fear of criminal punishment," Hilary Russell writes for Illinois Issues.

"Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, moved the room to silence as he spoke about a recent visit with his mother," Russell writes. "Raoul said she suffers from a variety of ailments and, as a result, her doctors have prescribed her multiple drugs to treat one issue while prescribing others to offset side effects. 'This is a bill about compassion for those who are suffering,' Raoul said. Having recently lost his father, Raoul noted, 'pharmaceuticals had no answer for the pain he had to go through. So we can make this a political issue, but this is about compassion'.”

Some House Republicans, like Patti Bellock of Hinsdale, "voiced an oft-cited concern by opponents of legalizing medicinal use: that more marijuana will end up on the streets and in the hands of teenagers," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The response of Skokie Democrat Lou Lang, who sponsored the House version of the bill?

“So what we’re going to do is make sure that people who are 50, 60, 70 and 80 who need the relief won’t get it because some 16-year old sneaks into his parent’s backyard and takes a little marijuana?"

Somehow debates about pot bring out the best in our elected officials.

Steve Rhodes the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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