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Illinois cannabis legislation means liberalization will continue

Cannabis medicine: tinctures. Image courtesey of Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance.

Illinois’ enabling law for a medical marijuana industry authorizes only a four-year experiment. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act is not a long-term solution. Generally a legislature undertakes a pilot program as a small-scale, preliminary study in order to learn whether a permanent, full-scale regime would be feasible, efficient, and otherwise good for its people. The program should generate invaluable data for the legislature about the size and preferences of the market and the costs and benefits to society at large.

Naturally any prediction is mere speculation, but there are plenty of indicators that Illinois’ General Assembly will not terminate the industry after four years. The key factors, in my opinion, are a) the already overwhelming public demand, b) reinforced by increased access to information. Americans are becoming more knowledgeable about the true benefits and risks of cannabis, and public opinion is shifting a result.

  • Public opinion polls generally show a majority of support and growing among Americans on the subject of cannabis regulation.
  • Colorado is demonstrating that cannabis regulation stimulates good economic activity.
    • Cannabis improves patients quality of life—in some cases dramatically.
    • It also generates substantial revenue for state and local government.
    • And it is proving no more harmful than other regulated substances such as alcohol and certain classes of pharmaceuticals.
  • Colorado is also demonstrating there is incredible market demand for cannabis. And Americans are clearly hungry for economic activity. Cannabis itself has the propensity to become a juggernaut industry. But there also exciting opportunities in researching and developing innovative new medicines derived from cannabis. The marijuana green rush is the hottest investment opportunity in the US today.

Illinois cannabis legislation shows trend

Given all these trends, which I expect to continue, I anticipate that by the end of four years the legal regime for cannabis in Illinois will become several degrees less restrictive. Already there are indicators that the General Assembly is thinking of other ways to loosen social policy on cannabis. Several active bills would amend either the medical cannabis pilot program or the criminal code.

Three bills received significant attention this week.

  • Illinois House Bill 4299 was voted favorably through the House Restorative Justice Committee and is slated on the House calendar for a second reading.
  • Illinois House Bill 5708 also was voted favorably through the Restorative Justice Committee. It too is slated on the House calendar for a second reading.

Both HB 4299 and HB 5708 would lessen significantly the criminal consequences of cannabis possession.

  • Senate Bill 2636 was voted favorably through the Senate Public Health Committee and is slated on the Senate’s Calendar for a Third Reading on April 1.

SB 2636 would add seizure conditions to the list of debilitating medical conditions under the medical cannabis pilot program.

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The quality of the recording is awesome. The three discs contain a lot of the same tracks, but that’s kind of cool because the band plays them a little differently every time. The songs tend to be in the same busy, trippy vein as Bitch’s Brew. Miles Davis was born in Alton, Illinois.

About the author: Bradley Vallerius is an Illinois attorney helping businesses and health care professionals adapt their policies and protocol to fit evolving cannabis laws.

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