Governor should add intractable pain to condition list, not fight it

02072017CM0236 mCHICAGO – Given a choice between showing compassion for those suffering from chronic pain or pursuing a costly legal battle, the Rauner administration should choose compassion, Senator Heather Steans said today.

Steans (D-Chicago) called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to expand access to Illinois’ medical marijuana program by adding intractable pain to the qualifying condition list rather than appeal a judge’s order that the condition be added.

Intractable pain is a severe form of chronic pain that is constant and incurable. It can be resistant to treatment, but some patients can benefit from using medical cannabis.

“Gov. Rauner needs to drop the appeal and allow patients with intractable pain to have access to medical cannabis,” Steans said. “Patients should have an alternative to opioids that doesn’t force them to turn to the black market for medicine.”

A patient with intractable pain recently sued the Illinois Department of Public Health over rejecting her petition to add intractable pain to the list of qualifying medical conditions for medical cannabis. A Cook County judge ordered the IDPH director to add it to the list last week.

“It’s time for the governor to show some compassion for Illinoisans who are suffering from severe, life-altering pain and allow them to access medical cannabis for relief,” Steans said.

Senator Steans at a public health hearing on legalizing adult-use cannabisCHICAGO – Issues of teen use and cannabis public education programs were discussed today at the Senate and House committee hearing on legalizing adult-use cannabis.

The committee also heard testimony on issues with the current medical marijuana program from patients and doctors and discussed the opioid epidemic in Illinois.

State Senator Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, is the lead Senate sponsor of a measure to tax and regulate cannabis in Illinois. She chaired today’s hearing.

“I hope that by passing this legislation we will make it more difficult for teens to access marijuana,” Steans said.

“As a mother of young adults, I have studied the effect marijuana can have on developing brains and think we need to do everything in our power to keep it out of their hands. However many teenagers have relatively easy access to marijuana within our current system, proving once again that prohibition doesn’t work. By implementing a tax-and-regulate system, they would need to show an ID to enter the dispensary.”

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Senator Steans and Representative Cassidy in a committee hearingThe sponsors of legislation to legalize recreational cannabis for adults in Illinois pushed back against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s opposition based on a supposed lack of data to support legalization.

“The governor’s statement against legalizing recreational adult-use marijuana is shortsighted and uninformed,” Steans said. “States began legalizing recreational marijuana five years ago. That’s five years of data that show that teen use does not increase when it’s legalized.”

State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) introduced legislation earlier this year to allow adults in Illinois to possess of up to 28 grams of cannabis and allow facilities to sell cannabis products. The measure includes a number of public safety and public health measures, such as funding for alcohol, tobacco and cannabis abuse prevention programs.

"The mistake here is Governor Rauner not taking the time to familiarize himself with the incredible success states are having with this 'experiment,'” Cassidy said. “The data indicate no increase in teen use, massive reductions in the criminal black market, and the kind of booming economic success he says he wants for Illinois. We are happy to sit down with the governor to discuss this legislation when he is ready to deal in facts, not scare tactics."

According to Colorado’s health department’s report “Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2016,” past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average and has remained unchanged since legalization occurred.

“There are hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans who are already using marijuana recreationally,” Steans said. “We have an opportunity to regulate the product so that it is safe and sold in stores rather than on the streets. It’s time for the governor to realize that this is a public health and public safety measure.”

The sponsors have held several subject matter hearings to gather more information about the potential effects of legalizing cannabis in Illinois and will continue to do so.

Senator Steans defends legislation on the Senate floor

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, issued the following statement on the lawsuit filed today by anti-choice groups to block House Bill 40, which protects women’s reproductive rights in Illinois and was signed into law earlier this year:

“This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to prevent poor women and state employees from exercising their legal right to choose. I firmly believe that all women should have the opportunity to make their own reproductive decisions regardless of their income level or employer. These choices should not be limited to the wealthy.”

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