Governor Pat Quinn Signs the Amendment on the Medical Marijuana Law

On July 20, 2014 SB 2636, the medical marijuana law adding epilepsy as a debilitating medical condition was signed by IL Governor Pat Quinn. This amendment includes epilepsy as one of the conditions for which medical marijuana may be prescribed, and that pediatric intractable cases of epilepsy may be permitted to use cannabis oil in the treatment of childhood seizures. The amendment was passed by the Illinois Senate with a vote of 49-5 on April 2, 2014 and the Illinois House of Representatives with a vote of 98-18 on May 21, 2014.

We would like to thank all of our supporters who came down to Springfield for Epilepsy Advocacy Day on May 14, 2014. The personal stories they shared with local Representatives clearly made an impact on the politicians and their advocacy is greatly appreciated. For photos of that day, click here. Thank you also to Senate Sponsors: Sen. Iris Y. Martinez, Dan Kotowski, William Delgado, David Koehler, Ira I. Silverstein, William R. Haine, John M. Sullivan, Dave Syverson, Melinda Bush, Emil Jones III, Jacqueline Y. Collins, Mattie Hunter, Toi W. Hutchinson, Donne E. Trotter, Linda Holmes, and Napoleon Harris III and House Sponsors: Rep. Lou Lang, Jim Durkin, Robyn Gabel, David R. Leitch, Sara Feigenholtz, Jaime M. Andrade, Jr., Maria Antonia Berrios, Laura Fine, Linda Chapa LaVia, Emanuel Chris Welch, Kelly M. Cassidy, Jehan A. Gordon-Booth, JoAnn D. Osmond, Naomi D. Jakobsson, and John D’Amico.

Illinois has a law that lists 35 conditions for which medical marijuana may be prescribed. Unlike 18 of the other 20 states that permit the use of medical marijuana, epilepsy is not included in the conditions for which marijuana may be prescribed under Illinois law. The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago supports further research into the effect of marijuana on epilepsy as well as all other conditions enumerated in the Illinois law. Given that Illinoishas a medical marijuana law and given the in vitro and in vivo evidence of the impact cannabidiol (“CBD”) can have on seizures as well as the anecdotal human evidence, the Foundation believes that it is appropriate to allow patients, parents and physicians the ability to determine collectively if the compassionate use of medical marijuana is reasonable in each individual case, including intractable pediatric cases. This position is consistent with that taken by the National Epilepsy Foundation and members of their Professional Advisory Board, including Nathan Fountain and Orrin Devinsky.

It is important to note that for epilepsy, the useful form of marijuana is an oil; it is not smoked. Furthermore, it is high in CBD and low in THC, the hallucinogenic component of marijuana. Accordingly, there is no alternative recreational use for this form of marijuana; it is formulated to treat seizures.

Over 130,000 people the the greater Chicagoland area live with epilepsy, a neurological condition that includes recurring seizures. More than 40,000 of these people live with uncontrolled seizures. People living with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injury and loss of life. The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago believes that Illinois residents suffering from seizures should be afforded the same benefits available to those suffering from any of the 35 conditions included in the Illinois Medical Marijuana Law. Illinois families shouldn’t have to be split up and move out of state in order to gain access to viable treatment for intractable seizures.

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