Today, Wednesday April 2, 2014, the Illinois Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 2636 49-5-2 sending the bill to the House for consideration. This bill would add seizure conditions including epilepsy to the list of qualifying conditions under the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program and would allow children under 18 with those conditions to have access to the program.
“Thanks to the Illinois State Senate, children with severe epilepsy are one step closer to being able to use medical cannabis for a better, safer life,” said Margaret Storey whose daughter Josie suffers from one of the seizure conditions covered by the bill. Storey testified before the Senate Public Health Committee in March in support of the bill.
Currently the Illinois Medical Cannabis Program, which was signed into law by Governor Quinn in August 2013 and which went into effect on Jan 1, does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to be a qualified patient to access medical cannabis. SB2636 would begin to open this program up to a wider range of patients and reflects the growing public consensus that cannabis is a valid medicine and should be treated as such.
Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn said “Epileptic children in Illinois deserve access to this medicine and hopefully the Illinois House will pass this bill and to give those kids the chance to use it.”
The draft rules for the new program are currently under review and will hopefully be finalized over the next few months. Patients will likely have to wait to get access to medical cannabis until sometime in the first half of 2015.
“Seizure conditions are serious and can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. They affect millions across the nation and thousands of adults and children in Illinois. These patients deserve access to any form of treatment that can help them, and medical cannabis has transformed lives and shown genuine promise for countless individuals and families in the states that allow access,” added Chris Lindsey, a Legislative Analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project
Illinois NORML would like to give our sincere thanks to Senator Martinez (D-Chicago) for her sponsorship of the bill and to all the other supporters for helping to get this bill passed, including the Epilepsy Foundation, the Marijuana Policy Project and especially the parents who spoke so eloquently at the committee hearing on this matter. We look forward to supporting this bill in the House and getting it signed into law by Governor Quinn.
Here is a link to the audio recording of the Senate Floor Debate: