Medical Marijuana Debate Comes to Illinois

February 16, 2005

, WHBF

It's a topic that always makes for a good debate.  On one side are people like Dr. Frank Claudy of Genesis: 'I think it creates more problems than it solves.'  On the other, people like James Getman of NORML: 'An ounce of pot runs about $100 and that would be about a month's worth of medication'.

Supporters of the bil dubbed the Medical Cannabis Act say marijuana will alleviate pain and other symptoms that prescription drugs cannot and some studies back that up.

'The study suggested that the inhaled or smoked form was superior in nausea relief,' admits Dr. Claudy.  But, he says, the issue runs much deeper than just pain relief.  He believes that prescribing marijuana can be risky.

'No doctor wants to be a part of a distribution program that involves a prescription and then gets out on the street,' he says.  Supporters say it would be no different than distributing other prescription drugs that, in various circles, may have a 'street value'.

Proponents of the bill say it will not only help ease physical pain but would also provide some financial pain relief.

'It's something that can be grown easily, it doesn't need to be manufactured in a lab,' says nursing student Laura Jasper, 'so hopefully since it is natural, it will be less expensive.'

James Getman has been a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) since the 1970's and he believes pot does no harm and it's ban is counter-productive.

'It's a very deep conspiracy as to what's going on with the marijuana issue,' says Getman.  'Obviously it's not terribly dangerous because (if it was) there would be dead bodies all over the place.  Cocaine and heroin, you find dead bodies...you don't find dead bodies from marijuana.'

This year the bill is slated for the House and Human Services Committee. It is hard to tell if the bill will be successful. Last year a similar bill was stuck in a different committee and never came up for consideration in front of either house.



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