Illinois Senate committee overwhelmingly approves “Ashley’s Law”
In a 9-1 vote Wednesday, the Illinois Senate Education committee approved a measure that would allow parents or guardians to medicate their children with cannabis while they’re at school. On Thursday, the full Senate is expected to vote on the bill, which sailed through the Illinois House last month.
The measure, dubbed “Ashley’s Law,” was named for 11-year-old Ashley Surin whose family filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Illinois and Schaumburg School District 54 for failing to include public schools among the places people can possess medical cannabis. Surin has been prescribed medical cannabis to treat seizures related to a leukemia diagnosis.
In January, a judge ruled in favor of Surin’s family, allowing the girl to bring her medication to school.
Sen. Cristina Castro (22nd) expects the bill to pass based on its bipartisan support in committee. Castro, who is co-sponsoring the measure, noted that Ashley and her family would be making the trip to Springfield for the vote.
“They will be my guests in the gallery,” Castro said. “They are very excited.”
Despite claims that cannabis legalization will create a windfall of tax revenue, a new report from Moody’s Investors Services shows that taxes from pot sales “provide only modest budget relief” in states that have legalized the drug for recreational use. According to the report, revenues generated by legalization “are a marginal credit positive” for the nine states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legal recreational cannabis laws.
Nevertheless, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker is continuing to push his plan to make pot fully legal in Illinois. Asked about the Moody’s study, Pritzker’s campaign defended his proposed policy.
“Legalizing marijuana will not just bring tax revenue to the state, but it will help reform a broken criminal justice system that has disproportionately harmed communities of color for far too long,” said campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “JB knows we can legalize marijuana in a safe way that will benefit communities across Illinois and he is ready to do that as governor.”
The billionaire has said he believes legalization could bring in between $350 million and $700 million in revenue, a figure anti-marijuana groups have disputed.
Almost half of the U.S. cancer doctors who responded to a recent survey said they’ve recommended medical cannabis to their patients, but most said they don’t know enough about the drug’s medicinal use. The authors of the study, published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said the results reflect how pot policy in some states has outpaced research.
All 29 states with medical cannabis programs allow doctors to recommend the drug to cancer patients despite the fact that no rigorous studies in cancer patients exist.
“The big takeaway is we need more research, plain and simple,” said Dr. Ilana Braun of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led the study.
Over twenty percent of recreational cannabis users are using lower amounts of over-the-counter pain medications, sleep aids and alcoholic beverages, according to a study released Monday by Chicago-based consumer behavior firm High Yield Insights. In addition, recreational pot users reported using the drug for a variety of reasons, including for relaxation, pain relief and sleep assistance.
The report also showed that 65 percent of respondents view legalization as positive for their communities.
Upcoming cannabis events in the Chicago area:
• Soul & Wellness Medical Marijuana Services & Education hosts a seminar on CBD and the process for getting approved for a medical marijuana card at 2 p.m. on Saturday at 2007 S. Blue Island Ave. in Pilsen.
• Greenhouse dispensary hosts a lecture covering cannabis history and the medical cannabis application process at Health Nuts Natural Foods at 6 p.m. on May 15, 19844 S. LaGrange Road in Mokena.