Opioid overdoses killed more than 1,900 people in Illinois in 2016 alone, and the Illinois Senate is moving closer to allowing medical marijuana to be used for conditions that opioids are prescribed for as a way to help curb the alarming trend. Supporters are confident the votes are there to make it happen.
A Senate committee passed Senate Bill 336 out of committee Wednesday with only Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, voting no.
The proposal would add “any other medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care” to the list of debilitating medical conditions allowed in the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
There are 40 different conditions currently on the list, such as cancer, fibromyalgia and others.
“While recognizing the importance of addressing the opioid crisis,” a statement from Brady’s office said, “Leader Brady’s vote was reflective of the concerns raised by the Illinois Department of Public Health on the legislation in its current form.”
IDPH said in a statement the measure is too broad.
“IDPH would be forced to make a judgement on what could be prescribed by a physician, for which there is no clear physician-based, generally accepted standard of care for prescribing opioids,” IDPH said. “ This would also expand the list of qualifying conditions to include anything for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed, such as a sprained ankle, pain after a fall, or having a tooth pulled.”
Chris Stone, who owns medical cannabis dispensary HCI Alternative with operations in Springfield and Collinsville, said opening medical pot up to those who are prescribed opioids to relieve pain offers another option for patients in pain. He said opioids may relieve pain, but they diminish patients’ quality of life.
“Having an option that is going to be less corrosive to your body, that’s going to allow you to function, should be made available to these patients,” Stone said.
He said it’s unclear what the governor’s stance is on the issue, but he thinks the votes are there.
“I think it’s going to get enough support in both chambers,” Stone said, “but the governor is going to have to make a decision as to whether he’s going to support it or not support it based on a supermajority.”
If both the Senate and the House approved the measure and Rauner decided to veto it, it would take a supermajority of votes in the two chambers to override.
IDPH also worried about having a short time frame to approve a potential flood of new applicants to the program if the proposal were to be approved, causing backlogs because of staffing and resource limitations.
“Without a major infusion of staff and resources, IDPH would not be able to manage this volume of applications,” a statement said. “This 14 day timeline would also move those individuals applying as an alternative to opioids, ahead of individuals who are applying for one of the approved conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.”
The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Family Institute and Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems all oppose the measure.
The Marijuana Policy Project supports the proposal and said the bill “would also take the sensible step of removing the requirement that medical cannabis patients submit fingerprints, provided they qualify under the new provisions.”
“It is a huge first step for the many Illinoisans suffering unbearable pain every day,” MPP’s Chris Lindsay said.
A judge in January ordered the state to add intractable pain as a qualifying condition, something added by the now-defunct Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. But the state’s public health department plans to appeal the ruling, which will delay its implementation.
The medical cannabis pilot program expires in 2020.
Article By Greg Bishop. For more Illinois News Network content, visit ILNews.org
Rauner signs bill to change ‘arcane’ state liquor control act, gives back local control
It will now be up to local officials as to whether they want a bar next to a church, school, military facility or hospital, and Gov. Bruce Rauner says it’s a step in the right direction.
A post-Prohibition-era state law required businesses to go to the state legislature for a liquor license if the establishment was within 100 feet of certain places such as schools or churches.
Small Business Advocacy Council President and Founder Elliot Richardson said that would take six months and wasn’t a guarantee.
“This archaic 1934 law is going to be changed, and the result is it is going to spur economic development in the city of Chicago and throughout the state,” Richardson said just before Rauner signed Senate Bill 2436 Thursday in a Chicago café. “Local communities are going to decide what’s best for them.”
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said one business had to wait a year to get a bill through the state legislature to get a liquor license. She said it didn’t make sense to require farmers in southern Illinois to sound off on a liquor license request for a Chicago business.
“Sixty-eight pages of the 72-page liquor control act are exemptions,” Feigenholtz said. “Today, we end that.”
She sponsored Senate Bill 2436, which passed with large bipartisan support.
Rauner said he has pushed hard to give control back to local governments since he took office in 2015.
“I actually vetoed two license requests to try and force the change because business was being browbeaten to come to Springfield,” Rauner said. “I said, ‘stop this, no more.’”
Rauner, without naming names, said some state politicians used the 1934 state law to play politics or to get campaign contributions.
The governor said he hopes the new law encourages lawmakers to return local control on other issues.
“If we do the same thing that we do with this for things like consolidating local governments or streamlining procurement or competitive bidding or contracting, get Springfield off the backs of local communities, we’ll bring down our property taxes and we’ll grow even more jobs,” Rauner said.
Although he didn’t mention the idea at Thursday’s bill signing, Rauner has in the past pushed what he called “empowerment zones,” or giving local elected officials the power to manage labor laws such as prevailing wage.
Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
New free-market consulting firm opens in Springfield
Fighting poverty is often seen as something that governments or non-profits do. Entrepreneurs in low income communities often turn to these resources for help starting or developing their businesses. But a new Springfield consulting firm is trying a different approach. KC Community Consultants is looking at how free market principles can help low income communities fight poverty.
Kelvin Coburn started KC Community Consultants because of the failures he has seen in the existing efforts to fight poverty. During his ribbon cutting speech, Coburn spoke about the need to develop local talent, and to give a voice to local leaders who have been successful. He also condemned the “bigotry of low expectations,” which holds back lower income communities by not expecting success. His plan is that KC Community Consultants can be accessible to the community and develop local businesses and talent. By being a for-profit business rather than a nonprofit, he hopes to avoid the issues that often arise for nonprofits.
Owner Kelvin Coburn was joined by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting this morning. You can watch Coburn’s full speech in the player.
You can learn more about their services on their website https://www.kccommunityconsultants.com
Davis discusses economic growth, tariffs at Roland Machinery
Roland Machinery is a Springfield success story. Starting over half a century ago, the company has spread to more than dozen locations across the Midwest. Roland deals in heavy machinery, and works with firms from around the world. Their contribution to the local economy, as well as global ties, made them a fitting place for Congressmen Rodney Davis’ (R-13) to talk about the pressing economic issues of the day.
The booming economy has been good for Roland. The combination of tax cuts, falling unemployment, and increased consumer confidence have driven growth for the company. They are doing more business, and are able to reinvest more because of the strong economy.
But the growing trade conflict with China and others poses some risks to their continued growth. Rising steel prices has impacted some of the attachments to the larger machines. Digging buckets are solid steel. When the price of steel goes up, so does the cost of the buckets. Such attachments are often only a small percentage of the total price of a system; but when the price jumps by 20 to 50 percent, it becomes far more noticeable. And because there are in a global supply chain, trade disruptions can pose unforeseen risks. However, Roland is confident that as long as the economy stays strong, they can manage any new costs.
The tariff balancing act
Rodney Davis then spoke about the current tariffs and their impact on Illinois farmers. Although not explicitly aimed at Illinois, any tariff on soybeans is going to heavily impact Illinois. Chinese tariffs on soybeans alone may end up costing American farmers billions. But soybeans are not the only trade issue from Davis’ district. The American steel industry, including in plant in Granite City, suffered from Chinese trade policy. Protecting American businesses from unfair Chinese practices is part of what has contributed to the current trade conflict.
The farmers’ unexpected politics help simplify Davis’ dilemma. Many of the farmers who stand to be most affected by the tariffs supported President Trump during the election. And they supported Trump in part because of his stance on trade, rather than in spite of it. Davis said that the farmers who have spoken to him say they still trust in Trump’s ability to handle the trade situation, and that Davis should as well. Davis said he is willing to work with the president, but, “If the President asks us personally to trust him on these issues, then we need to see results.”
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