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Celebrating Progress on Medicinal Marijuana in Illinois

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PHOTO: Supporters of drug policy reform will gather Saturday in Chicago to celebrate the progress they believe Illinois and other states are making to end cannabis prohibition. Photo credit: Ali Nagib, Illinois NORML.
PHOTO: Supporters of drug policy reform will gather Saturday in Chicago to celebrate the progress they believe Illinois and other states are making to end cannabis prohibition. Photo credit: Ali Nagib, Illinois NORML.
 By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL, Contact
May 2, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Those who have worked to legalize medicinal marijuana in Illinois will join others this weekend for a worldwide celebration.

The 2014 Global Cannabis March has been held for 15 years in dozens of cities, and in Chicago Saturday those in favor of drug policy reform will rally at Daley Plaza.

Ali Nagib is the assistant director of Illinois NORML – the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws.

"We have a positive event and we're just looking to get people to celebrate the change we've made, and get them more engaged to keep fighting, so we can return this plant back to its proper place in our society," he explains.

Last year, Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medicinal marijuana, and as state leaders set up the infrastructure and regulations, it could be another year before patients can take advantage of the changes.

Supporters say the new law will help relieve symptoms of patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures and dozens of other illness.

Nagib says the state's medical marijuana program is a step forward, but there is many ways it could be improved.

"We think that subjecting patients to background checks and fingerprinting, you know, treating them as criminals for trying to use medicine is inappropriate,” he adds. “We would like to see a measure for home cultivation."

Nagib says allowing patients to grow a small number of marijuana plants for personal use would keep costs down and improve accessibility for people with limited incomes.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will host two public hearings this month on the rules for cannabis use - Monday in Chicago and May 21 in Springfield.


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