Medical marijuana bill revised

By Paolo Cisneros

Proponents of a bill that would legalize medicinal marijuana in Illinois held a press conference in the State Capital Wednesday to announce significant changes to the legislation.

Director of the Illinois Compassion Action Network, John Walker, said the changes came about after legislators met with various state and local police departments to discuss ways in which the bill could be improved.

“Law enforcement have been very vocal opponents of this bill, but they were willing to sit down with us,” Walker said in a phone interview. “They basically told us what we needed to do to satisfy their needs.”

Among the changes are the decision to label the plan as a “pilot project,” meaning it can be revoked after three years if lawmakers deem it necessary, limiting the number of patients that can enter the program to 1,200, and mandating that any one doctor can only prescribe marijuana to one individual patient.

Walker said that although the bill was expected to reach the Senate floor in a matter of weeks, its lead sponsor, Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, hinted at the press conference that he might delay the vote until after the election in November so that other senators and representatives will not be afraid of a “yes” vote hurting their election chances.

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Despite the possible delay, Walker said he was pleased to see the bill finally making some headway and garnering respect among politicians and the public.

“I’m happy that (the legislature) is serious about seeing this pass rather than just trying to see where everyone’s at,” he said.