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Dispensary owner says Medical pot for pain would be better quality of life than opioid addiction

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Chris Stone, CEO of Springfield and Collinsville medical cannabis dispensary HCI Alternatives

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

 

Illinois News Network, publisher of ILNews.org, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the state of Illinois. INN is Illinois’ pioneering non-profit news brand, offering content from the statehouse and beyond to Illinoisans through their local media of choice and from their digital hub at ILNews.org. Springfield Daily was granted republishing permission by INN.

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SJ-R writers march for a contract

Thomas Clatterbuck

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2007 was the year President George W. Bush sent the “surge” of troops to Iraq, the iPhone was released, and the subprime mortgage bubble popped. It was also when writers at the State Journal-Register (SJR) last got a raise. Even after forming a union in 2012, the newsroom writers are still fighting to get their first contract with GateHouse Media. GateHouse Media is part of the New Media Investment Group, which acquired the SJR in 2007. They are based in Fairport, New York,

Today, members of the local United Media Guild marched to demand a labor contract. Those negotiations are ongoing in St. Louis, and have made some progress. A deal struck last year will guarantee a one percent raise in September of this year, and a 1.75 percent raise in October of next year. The marchers were joined by members of other local labor unions including AFSCME.

The local United Media Guild is part of The NewsGuild-CWA which represents 25,000 journalists and media workers across the nation.

You can see our interviews with Union representatives in the video player above, and watch some of the march in the player below.

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New Opportunity Zones coming to Central Illinois

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Hundreds of sites in Illinois are being made more business friendly thanks to new “Opportunity Zones.”  372 sites across Illinois were selected to receive special tax breaks to encourage private investments. These locations were chosen based on a number of factors relating to economic need. Many areas in Central Illinois received zones, including Springfield, Decatur, Champaign; as well as a number of smaller communities.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13) said, “Opportunity Zones, which were a key aspect of the tax reform package we passed, will continue to spur economic investment in areas that need it the most. During the recession, many of our rural communities were hit the hardest and have been the slowest to recover. The tax-free, private investments that will be a result of these Opportunity Zones will help create jobs and grow these communities. We’ve only just started to see the benefits from tax reform and because of provisions like this, we will continue to see tax reform help Americans at all income levels.” 23 of the new zones are located within the 13th.

State Rep. Avery Bourn (R-95) called the zones a, “great opportunity to bring jobs and investments in the 95th.” There are three zones located within the 95th.

Click the link to learn more about these zones and find areas near your community.

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Farm Bill fails in the House, Davis remains hopeful

Staff Contributor

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The 2018 Farm Bill was dealt a blow today with the House voting against it 198-213. No Democrats supported the bill, which called for new work requirements for SNAP recipients. Their opposition was not surprising, but was not enough to block the bill. They needed support from 30 Republicans to ensure the bill did not pass.

Those Republicans who voted against the bill are part of the Freedom Caucus. Their current opposition to the Farm Bill was part of a wider strategy to force a vote on immigration reform. They are trading their support for the Farm bill to ensure there is a vote on immigration reform. Head of the Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows said that this was not a “fatal blow,” and suggests that they are likely to support the bill in the future.

While this is hardly a new strategy, it has drawn condemnation from fellow Republicans. Rep. Rodney Davis had this to say:

“As someone who has worked with members from both parties, Democrat and Republican presidents, my message to my colleagues who voted against this bill is reminiscent of a Rolling Stones’ song: ‘you can’t always get what you want.’

“Tanking a bill critical to our farmers not because you disagree with the bill, but because you want a vote on something unrelated is wrong. Refusing to be part of the process because you think your party is going to win in November is wrong. It’s not what the American people sent us here to do. We were sent here to govern.

“In 2013, the farm bill failed the first time around, but we ultimately got a good bill signed into law. In 1996, President Bill Clinton and a Republican-led Congress passed welfare-to-work reforms, similar to the reforms in this bill. For these reasons, I remain optimistic that we can get a farm bill passed this year.”

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