The Illinois House on Tuesday narrowly rejected legislation that that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.
The measure pushed by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) reached 58 votes – two shy of the 60 needed to pass the House – before members began deserting the apparently doomed bill, leaving the “yes” tally at 53.
Lang kept the legislation alive through a parliamentary maneuver, but Tuesday’s vote dealt a potentially fatal blow to efforts to pass the bill before a new General Assembly is seated in January.
“Just answer to yourself this question: You’re at home, and you get a call from your brother, your sister, your parent that they have cancer, that they’re in pain, they’re suffering,” Lang said from the House floor, his voice rising.
“You take them to the doctor, and the doctor says I have a product I can get for you, but the state of Illinois says you can’t have it. Which one of us would say to our parents, ‘Sorry mom, sorry dad, you can’t have this product because I have a problem with it politically?
“Every person on this floor, whether you’re for this bill or against this bill, would go through hell to find this product to give to your mother,” Lang said.
Lang’s legislation permitted those with more than a dozen illnesses or conditions – ranging from cancer to multiple sclerosis to Crohn’s Disease – to obtain marijuana for relief of their symptoms so long as they obtain a prescription from their doctor.
But opponents argued Lang’s legislation amounted to a pathway to legalization of marijuana in Illinois. Others contended if the drug was so effective in treating medical conditions, it would have been long since legalized by Congress.
“This concept goes well beyond medical use, medical treatment,” said Rep. David Reis (R-Willow Hill). “This is about the legalization of marijuana. I mean, most of the medical treatments that have come about have come about in the last 50 years. Why wasn’t this legalized a long time ago? We have the drugs today. We have the ability to do this. But we’re sending the wrong message to our children.”