Eight medical providers from the region are publicly supporting an Illinois House bill that would legalize the medical use of marijuana.
The eight are among 250 Illinois medical providers who on Tuesday announced they support House Bill 1, which is expected to be voted on this week. The measure would create a four-year pilot program under which people with certain ailments, such as cancer, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, could receive a doctor's permission to use marijuana.
"For many patients, the treatment can sometimes be worse than the disease," said Dr. Margaret Millar, of Moline, one of the endorsing physicians. "Having seen the devastating, and all-too-often lethal toll that legally prescribed narcotics can take, I support medical marijuana as a safer, milder treatment option that carries no risk of fatal overdose."
The medical providers from the region who publicly support the proposal are:
* John Kleinhoffer, optometrist, Highland
* Michelle Tinge, physician's assistant, Fairview Heights
* Jacob Marshall Jr., physician, Collinsville/Breese
* David Walters, obstetrician/gynecologist, Mount Vernon
* Barry Mossman, physician, Alton
* Ayesha Najib, physician, Maryville
* Bijoy Hegde, physician, Granite City
* Gregory Randle, physician, Glen Carbon/Highland
The medical providers signed on to the following statement: "Licensed medical practitioners should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people, and seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if their medical professionals have told them that such use is likely to be beneficial."
The measure's chief sponsor in the Senate is Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton. The House is expected to take up the bill this week, and a close vote is expected. If the bill wins approval in the House, it would then go to the Senate.
The measure would make Illinois the 19th state to allow medical use of marijuana. It also would establish a state-regulated network of centers where the marijuana is grown and dispensed.
Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, said: "It should be up to physicians, not police and prosecutors, to decide whether medical marijuana is the right treatment for their patients. Seriously ill people who benefit from medical marijuana should be able to obtain it legally and safely. Our laws should promote the doctor-patient relationship, not the dealer-patient relationship."
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2511.