SPRINGFIELD - Wednesday, Illinois Review ran a story about a number of doctors the Marijuana Policy Project brought together in support of State Rep. Lou Lang's HB 1 legalizing medical cannabis. Eight doctors on MPP's list had been disciplined by the Illinois Division of Professional Regulations for several different reasons, including accusations of tax evasion, marijuana use, and solicitation of a minor.
When Illinois Review asked Rep. Lang about the allegations, he said that he hadn't gathered the list and had nothing to do with the press conference unveiling the list. He pointed to MPP's Dan Riffle for more information.
"On the doctors list, whatever ethical concerns a small handful of doctors might have, they do not tar the records of the more than 200 others who also support medical marijuana," Riffle wrote Illinois Review in an email.
"Having spent years working on this issue, the number of physicians out there who think marijuana has no medical value is vanishingly small. The number who think sick people should be arrested and prosecuted for using it, as current Illinois law dictates, is close to (and should be) zero."
Then Riffle addressed Illinois' HB 1, which passed the House with two votes to spare Wednesday, and is now working its way through the Senate. Governor Quinn told reporters this week he is "keeping an open mind," about legalizing medical marijuana. Riffle wrote:
As a former prosecuting attorney, I know a thing or two about law enforcement. Having read every other medical marijuana law in the country, I can assure you this one ranks right up there with New Jersey's as the strictest, most thoroughly regulated in the country. While any medication can be abused, Rep. Lang has made every effort to address law enforcement concerns and has put in plenty of safeguards to prevent against abuse.
As for the politics, I am confused as to why this is thought of as a liberal or Democratic issue. The conservative argument against Obamacare is that healthcare should be between doctors and their patients, and that big government shouldn't be butting in telling doctors what kind of healthcare they can provide or telling patients what kind of care they can receive. That is all we're trying to do here. Medical decisions should be made by doctors, not cops or legislators who lack medical education, training and experience. We trust doctors to prescribe far more addictive and dangerous medications - Vicodin, Oxycontin, Morphine - every day. Marijuana is simply another, safer option that carries fewer and more mild side-effects with a lower risk of addiction and, most importantly, no risk of fatal overdose.