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Illinois lawmakers reject medical marijuana bill

Illinois lawmakers reject medical marijuana bill

The human services committee of the Illinois house of representatives on Thursday voted 7-4 to reject a bill that would have allowed people with chronic diseases in the state to use medicinal marijuana. The committee faced intense pressure from the White House to reject the bill, and federal drug czar John Walters gave an hour of testimony against the bill. Speaking in favor of the measure were several doctors and seriously ill Illinois state residents who said medical marijuana could help them fight their diseases. One person testifying, Irvin Rosenfeld, was detained by police after the hearing because he brought a tin containing 300 marijuana cigarettes he receives through a U.S. government study to show to the panel. Rosenfeld, who suffers from multiple congenital cartilaginous and uses medical marijuana to treat the pain associated with the genetically inherited diseases, was held by sate police until it was verified that he was permitted to possess medical marijuana. "What happened to me illustrates why this bill is necessary," Rosenfeld said in a press release issued by the Marijuana Policy Project, the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. "For 22 years, I have received my medical marijuana directly from the federal government, and yet after I spoke, I was stopped and detained by the police. Had this been any other patient, they would be in jail now, no matter how sick they are or how much pain they are in. Medical marijuana has enabled me to live a normal life and have a successful career as a stockbroker, and it's not fair that only a few of us have legal access to this medicine while so many others with the same need are forced to risk jail for it every day." The bill was endorsed by numerous Illinois health organizations, including the Illinois Nurses Association and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Television host Montel Williams, who uses medical marijuana to relieve the pain and muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis, urged passage of the measure in a column in the February 14 edition of the Chicago Tribune. Several Democratic Illinois lawmakers were sharply critical of the White House's efforts to shoot down the bill. "I can't remember ever seeing any White House, Republican or Democrat, put such a massive effort and spend so many taxpayer dollars trying to quash a state bill just having its first hearing," state representative Larry McKeon said in a press statement by the Marijuana Policy Project. "This is an outrageous misuse of tax dollars, and I am distressed that my fellow Democrats couldn't muster the courage to resist this White House interference."

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