Drug Law

Montel Williams to Illinois: Legalize Medical Marijuana

| by Marijuana Policy Project

Former Talk Show Host and Multiple Sclerosis Patient Will Meet Tomorrow With State House Members to Urge Passage of SB 1381 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Former talk show host, U.S. Navy officer, and multiple sclerosis patient Montel Williams will meet with members of the Illinois House of Representatives tomorrow to urge them to vote in favor of SB 1381, a bill that would make Illinois the 16th state in the nation to allow chronically ill patients to use marijuana with the recommendation of their doctor.

The Senate passed the bill – which would create one of the tightest regulated medical marijuana programs in the country – last year.

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Mr. Williams suffers from multiple sclerosis, and uses medical marijuana to help ease the effects of his condition. “Illinois lawmakers should act without delay to make marijuana legally available for medical use,” Williams said. “Every day that they delay is another one of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state. Fifteen other states have already passed medical marijuana laws, and Illinois’s lawmakers now have an opportunity to ensure that those suffering in their state will be treated with the same compassionate care.”

Sixty-eight percent of Illinois voters favor allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to use and grow marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor recommends it, according to a 2008 Mason-Dixon poll. On Jan. 3, Gov. Quinn told the Associated Press, “People who are seriously ill deserve access to all medical treatments that will help them fight their illness and recover.”

Since 1996, 15 states and Washington, D.C., have passed medical marijuana laws, and more than a dozen others considered such laws in 2010. The most recent was Arizona, where voters approved a medical marijuana law earlier this month.

Under SB 1381, qualified patients could obtain medical marijuana from state-licensed organizations regulated by the state health department, which would also issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients who receive a recommendation from their doctor.

Public use of marijuana and driving under the influence would be prohibited. In Illinois, the bill is supported by the Illinois Nurses Association, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Protestants for the Common Good, the Jewish Political Alliance of Illinois, and Illinois public health advocate and physician to the governor, Dr. Quentin Young. Nationally, the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many other esteemed health organizations have endorsed the medical efficacy of marijuana.