Medical Cannabis ruled as ok substitute for opioids by Illinois legislature, Governor approval awaits.
Per the Chicago Tribune’s Robert McCoppin, the Illinois legislature has approved a measure that will allow patients who have opioid prescriptions to use medical cannabis as a substitute. Maybe just as importantly, they have also eliminated requirements that forced patients to submit to time costly fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Under the measure, doctor’s orders would be the basis of a patient’s ability to purchase medical marijuana from a licensed provider rather than approval from the department of health. As McCoppin implies, this will take a lot of the programs management out of bureaucratic hands, which is good news. I’ve stated this in other blogs when this issue has come up, but bureaucracies are inhumane institutions that really don’t care about people’s well being in the slightest. The department of health floundered as people in pain desperately tried to get medical marijuana licenses but found themselves unable to because of red tape. When I checked into how the program was doing a few months ago, things were pretty bleak. Despite a goal of 100,000 licenses being approved, and more than enough demand, the department was only able to approve 37,000 licenses. So, any measure that can take some of the decision making process out of their hands is a positive. Requiring criminal background checks is also something that seems pretty discriminatory and as mentioned before, incredibly time wasting. Nobody is buying a firearm here, they’re acquiring a legitimate medical item. There are so many stupid victimless things people have criminal records over, and not allowing them access to a medical item because of it is pretty atrocious. You could tell how badly this was all going for the department based on the amount of bipartisan support for the measure, a rare thing in these days. Don Harmon, a Democrat for Oak Park, was the main sponsor for the bill. He cited some hearings in Springfield from people who had tried to use marijuana to lower their opioid use, as providing a big impression on him. He made an accurate assertion that despite his lack of knowledge over marijuana’s medical utility, he knows there have been no overdose deaths that have stemmed from it. Unlike opioids, which have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. He is right, we don’t know totally what kind of medical utility cannabis has. McCoppin writes, “In general, the National Academies of Sciences has reported there is substantial evidence indicating marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain, nausea from chemotherapy, and muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis. The Food and Drug Administration remains skeptical, and has approved synthetic versions of THC, the component that gets users high, but has not approved the plant as medicine.” So, it seems apparent that it does have some medical utility, but I don’t think it is perfect or without negatives. There is no need to glorify it, obsess over it, or legislate it out of existence. People should not be going to jail, paying fines, or being harassed by law enforcement because of it. People in pain who feel like it helps, should be listened to. They should have access to it regardless of a criminal background, or socioeconomic status. On another slightly related note, I think it’s pretty rich that the FDA acts as some ultimate credible institution on that matter. This is the institution that was basically ok letting people with Aids suffer and die while not doing really anything on the matter. They are still an extremely flawed institution, rife with racism and homophobia. They care more about protecting the profit margins of Pharmaceutical companies than they do protecting consumer interests. So, to be completely frank, I don’t really care whatever the hell the FDA has to say. This measure still needs to be approved by Rauner however, who has never seemed like much of an advocate for the Medical Cannabis program. He has resisted efforts to legalize, but as McCoppin writes, he may use this type of measure as a middle ground in the upcoming campaign. Rauner’s opponents Pritzker has stated before that he is pro legalization and pro extension of medical Cannabis access. I think Rauner would be incredibly foolish to reject this bipartisan approved measure.