Marijuana vote is a real bummer

Marijuana vote is a real bummer

An Illinois House vote to legalize "medical marijuana" represents another triumph of empathy over evidence.

It's emblematic of this state's increasingly weird style of governance that our public officials continue to make it more costly and inconvenient to smoke cigarettes while moving toward making it less costly and less inconvenient to smoke marijuana.

That's not a vote in favor of cigarettes, a vile and unhealthy habit the practice of which is increasingly marginalized. But to attack the smoking of cigarettes while passing a law that will dramatically increase the smoking of marijuana is just foolish.

It's not yet a fait accompli. But the Illinois House last week approved a medical marijuana bill while the state Senate stands poised to do so. Gov. Pat Quinn has commented favorably on the proposal.

Backers of the legislation promote marijuana as a public health benefit. It's really the first step toward legalization.

Even if one takes supporters' words that this legislation is a medical benefit at face value, their arguments are foolishly shallow, indisputable evidence that they don't know what they don't know.

Among the opponents of medical marijuana are the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Cancer Society and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said scientific research on marijuana's purported health benefits is "just beginning." But it warns regular marijuana use can have "negative effects on short-term memory, concentration, attention span, motivation and problem solving, which clearly interfere with learning." Its list goes on and on.

Promoters of medical marijuana rely on claims by individuals who are extremely ill or suffering from a terminal disease that using marijuana eases their pain. It's hard to argue with their perception.

But it's easy to rebut the emotional claims of medical marijuana advocates. They portray individuals in those circumstances as susceptible to being dragged from their death beds to jail for smoking marijuana to ease their pain.

"We're turning granny into a criminal," said state Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat.

Really? Can Lang back up his assertions that police officers in Illinois are breaking down doors to arrest desperately ill people who smoke marijuana for pain management? Is there a state's attorney in Illinois so stupid or out of touch with reality to file a criminal case based on the facts that Lang describes?

Lang is, of course, one of the bigger buffoons in the General Assembly. But his arguments were swallowed whole by many of his colleagues.

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, an Urbana Democrat, supports medical marijuana for that very insubstantial reason. People can only hope that local state Sens. Mike Frerichs, Chapin Rose and Jason Barickman demonstrate greater powers of discernment when the bill gets to the Senate.

Here's what will happen if this bill becomes law. Anyone over the age of 18 will be able to obtain a prescription for 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. That's 184 joints. What they don't use themselves, they will sell or give away to friends.

The talk about safeguards is nonsense. Medical providers in Illinois will hand out prescriptions like candy, just like they do in other states that have passed medical marijuana laws. In Washington state, the longer the prescription is written, the greater the fee that is charged.

This will be like the old days of Prohibition, when liquor was supposed to be illegal unless, of course, one had a prescription to consume it for "medical" reasons.

Ironically, the Prohibition argument represents the best case that can be made for legalizing marijuana. The war on drugs is failing. The better approach, however, is not to legalize marijuana, but to decriminalize use by making it a fine-only offense.

Our society does not need more intoxicants. Alcohol consumption is a public health scourge. Adding medical marijuana to our already overdosed society will only create more costly misery.

Sections (4):News, Local, Editorials, Opinion

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
myrae wrote on April 21, 2013 at 9:04 am

I'm all for people in pain to get the medicine they need.  People throughout history having been using herbs to cure what ails them.  Modern people think pills may have it all, but that is simply not the case.  I'm also not opposed to legalization.  There are as many pot smokers as there are gay people--in other words, a significant amount of people! 

Ingesting marijuana seems to be part of the NORMAL variety of the human experience.  People use it to cure what ails them, to calm them down, to energize them, to tap creative potential, to worship, to have fun, etc.  The only reason alcohol and tobacco are legal in this country but marijuana is not is culture context.  Marijuana kills fewer people than aspirin.

I for one am so proud of Naomi Jacobsson for supporting this measure.  It's time to go beyond what we've always done.  Fear mongering does not have a place in our future.  We simply do not have enough money to continue locking up people for petty drug crimes,and if someone needs their meds that are not provided by Big Pharma, then this is what they face everytime they get their meds.  Who am I to deny someone the pain relief they need?  That idea is barbaric.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on April 21, 2013 at 10:04 am
Profile Picture

"Among the opponents of medical marijuana are the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Cancer Society..."


Those organizations wouldn't happen to consist of doctors and pharma execs who make money off of medications that people might use medical marijuana instead would they?

malcolmkyle wrote on April 21, 2013 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture

They conveniantly forgot to mention all the Health Organizations that do support Immediate Legal Access to Medical Marijuana.


AIDS Action Council
AIDS Treatment News
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Medical Student Association
American Nurses Association
American Preventive Medical Association
American Public Health Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Arthritis Research Campaign (United Kingdom)
Australian Medical Association (New South Wales) Limited
Australian National Task Force on Cannabis
Belgian Ministry of Health
British House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
British House of Lords Select Committee On Science and Technology (Second Report)
British Medical Association
Canadian AIDS Society
Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs
Dr. Dean Edell (surgeon and nationally syndicated radio host)
French Ministry of Health
Health Canada
Kaiser Permanente
Lymphoma Foundation of America
The Montel Williams MS Foundation
Multiple Sclerosis Society (Canada)
The Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom)
National Academy of Sciences Institute Of Medicine (IOM)
National Association for Public Health Policy
National Nurses Society on Addictions
Netherlands Ministry of Health
New England Journal of Medicine
New South Wales (Australia) Parliamentary Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for Medical Purposes
Dr. Andrew Weil (nationally recognized professor of internal medicine and founder of the National Integrative Medicine Council)


Alaska Nurses Association
Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
California Academy of Family Physicians
California Nurses Association
California Pharmacists Association
Colorado Nurses Association
Connecticut Nurses Association
Florida Governor's Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS
Florida Medical Association
Hawaii Nurses Association
Illinois Nurses Association
Life Extension Foundation
Medical Society of the State of New York
Mississippi Nurses Association
New Jersey State Nurses Association
New Mexico Medical Society
New Mexico Nurses Association
New York County Medical Society
New York State Nurses Association
North Carolina Nurses Association
Rhode Island Medical Society
Rhode Island State Nurses Association
San Francisco Mayor's Summit on AIDS and HIV
San Francisco Medical Society
Vermont Medical Marijuana Study Committee
Virginia Nurses Association 
Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)
Wisconsin Nurses Association


GeneralLeePeeved wrote on April 21, 2013 at 10:04 am

It comes as no surprise that the ultra-socially-conservative N-G editorial board would be against this legislation.  However, their reasons against it are weaker than the reasons that they criticize of the supporters.  They state that those who acquire it with a prescription will sell or give away what they don't use to friends.  Where's the evidence to support that assertion?  Then they argue that prescritiptions will be handed out like candy.....again, considering that the writers of this bill claim that they have learned from the mistakes of other states and crafted the bill to reflect those lessons, where is the evidence to support the N-G's allegation?  Their final argument is the weakest of all, insisting that because our society already has to deal with the problems associated with alcohol, that we don't need "more intoxicants".  This is the equivalent of saying that because we already have cars that allow us to exceed the speed limit and sometimes cause accidents, that nobody should be allowed to build another type of vehicle that can exceed 30mph.   In the past, the N-G has bemoaned the passage of new rules and regulations, calling such things the actions of a "nanny state".....yet, when it comes to something like this, a claim of letting people take personal responsibility is not enough and our laws should, therfore, remain strict......such hypocrisy.....I'm starting to think that some on the editorial board helped produce that great classic "Reefer Madness"

malcolmkyle wrote on April 21, 2013 at 10:04 am
Profile Picture

I don't doubt your sincerity but I do have huge misgivings about the source of your "information".

The following text is taken directly from the US government's National Cancer Institute website:


One study in mice and rats suggested that cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. During this 2-year study, groups of mice and rats were given various doses of THC by gavage. A dose-related decrease in the incidence of hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma was observed in the mice. Decreased incidences of benign tumors (polyps and adenomas) in other organs (mammary gland, uterus, pituitary, testis, and pancreas) were also noted in the rats. In another study, delta-9-THC, delta-8-THC, and cannabinol were found to inhibit the growth of Lewis lung adenocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo. In addition, other tumors have been shown to be sensitive to cannabinoid-induced growth inhibition.

Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. These compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis in glioma cells in culture and induce regression of glioma tumors in mice and rats. Cannabinoids protect normal glial cells of astroglial and oligodendroglial lineages from apoptosis mediated by the CB1 receptor. 

In an in vivo model using severe combined immunodeficient mice, subcutaneous tumors were generated by inoculating the animals with cells from human non-small cell lung carcinoma cell lines. Tumor growth was inhibited by 60% in THC-treated mice compared with vehicle-treated control mice. Tumor specimens revealed that THC had antiangiogenic and antiproliferative effects.


In addition, both plant-derived and endogenous cannabinoids have been studied for anti- inflammatory effects. A mouse study demonstrated that endogenous cannabinoid system signaling is likely to provide intrinsic protection against colonic inflammation. As a result, a hypothesis that phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids may be useful in the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer has been developed.


Another study has shown delta-9-THC is a potent and selective antiviral agent against Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8. The researchers concluded that additional studies on cannabinoids and herpesviruses are warranted, as they may lead to the development of drugs that inhibit the reactivation of these oncogenic viruses. Subsequently, another group of investigators reported increased efficiency of KSHV infection of human dermal microvascular epithelial cells in the presence of low doses of delta-9-THC.


Many animal studies have previously demonstrated that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids have a stimulatory effect on appetite and increase food intake. It is believed that the endogenous cannabinoid system may serve as a regulator of feeding behavior. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide potently enhances appetite in mice. Moreover, CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus may be involved in the motivational or reward aspects of eating.


The understanding of the mechanism of cannabinoid-induced analgesia has been increased through the study of cannabinoid receptors (endocannabinoids), and synthetic agonists and antagonists. The CB1 receptor is found in both the central nervous system (CNS) and in peripheral nerve terminals. Similar to opioid receptors, increased levels of the CB1 receptor are found in sections of the brain that regulate nociceptive processing. CB2 receptors, located predominantly in peripheral tissue, exist at very low levels in the CNS. With the development of receptor-specific antagonists, much additional information about the roles of the receptors and the endogenous cannabinoids in the modulation of pain has also been obtained.

Cannabinoids may also contribute to pain modulation through an anti-inflammatory mechanism; a CB2 effect with cannabinoids acting on mast cell receptors to attenuate the release of inflammatory agents, such as histamine and serotonin, and on keratinocytes to enhance the release of analgesic opioids.

STM wrote on April 21, 2013 at 11:04 am

Pot and industrial hemp have been lobbied against by powerful and well-funded interests. Pharmaceutical companies (for reasons show above). Cotton growers and processors, ag-chemical interests are opposed to hemp. Alcohol and tobacco interests don't want the competition either.

We shouldn't be filling our prisons and clogging our legal system with pot users. The News Gazette, for the gazillionth time, is on the wrong side of an surprise there.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 21, 2013 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture

So the N-G board wants it to be legal, and taxed; but they want people to feel guilty about it?

EL YATIRI wrote on April 21, 2013 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture


brockangelo wrote on April 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Where this editorial misses the mark is that it doesn't represent public opinion accurately in its final summary. I think a better end to this piece would have been to represent what the majority of readers are voicing: that we are beyond the comparison to nicotine or alcohol, beyond the question of its medical benefits. We are beyond feeling like "outlaws", and being shamed by articles like this that suggest that by asking for legally accessible marijuana we are asking to become an "overdosed" society.

James E. Gierach wrote on April 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm
Profile Picture

This commentary may have made some sense 40 years ago when I was a Cook County drug prosecutor but makes none after 40-plus years of drug war.  The opinion piece went wrong in the third paragraph when it said: "But to attack the smoking of cigarettes while passing a law that will dramatically increase the smoking of marijuana is just foolish."

The false predicate is that legalizing, controlling and regulating marijuana will increase drug use.  The European examples impeach that assumption.  All European countries that have differentiated between hard and soft drugs have lower drug use rates than the US that has not.

Secondly, the US experience has show that, strangely, drug policy is counter-intuitive; the greater the effort to repress drug use with prohibition, criminization and intolerance, the greater the availability of the drug.

Drug prohibition is the most effective means to put more drugs everywhere.  Law enforcement seized 6,000 plants two miles from my home in Cook County and the following summer 4,000 plants a few miles away in Cook County Forest Preserve District.  Prohibition has Mexico producing 21,500 tons of marijuana in 2008,according to the US Department of Justice Intelligence Center and its "2011 Drug Threat Assessment."

Last summer, Chicago and DEA authorities seized 8 tons of marijuana in Chicago and thought it a big deal.  It was insignificant in the grand scheme of prohibition markets and pot tonnage.  Yet, the News-Gazette is worried that sick people may access 2.5 grams of pot every two weeks, or that they are not sick enough.  Preposterous.

Congratulations to the Illinois House for doing the right thing for the sick and the well.

Some 82 percent of Americans

steveconrad wrote on April 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Dear Sir or Ma'am,


I am writing this letter in response to your editorial "Marijuana Vote is a real bummer."


After reading this article and seeing how you cast your opinion, I cannot overlook your profound lack of education regarding the matter.  First off, you keep referring to Marijuana as "smoked."  Let me school you here, since you are still stuck in the 1960's propaganda that you have to smoke Marijuana. 


Marijuana can be ingested in many forms.  The most common form is edibles.  That is where the active compound in Marijuana, THC is extracted via a form of cooking and the ingredient is used in cookies, brownies, popcorn, candy etc.  Any recipe that requires butter or oil, Cannabis/Marijuana can be used so the person can get the medicinal benefits from Marijuana.  How else would a terminal lung cancer patient use marijuana?


Secondly, the 2nd most used way to ingest Marijuana is vaporizing.  That is where the marijuana is heated up to a certain temperature and the vapor is captured in a bag, and inhaled.  There are absolutely no carcinogens, and this has no impact on the respiratory system.


Lastly, yes, the person can choose to smoke Medical Marijuana.


You ask why are so many organizations against Medical Marijuana?  Well, since Marijuana is a natural growing plant, it cannot be patented.  To pharmaceutical companies, this will impact their sales.  Since they can't patent it, and people can grow their own, there is no need to go to Walgreen's or CVS and buy a bottle of Excedrin or Ibuprofen.  All the organizations you mentioned profit from the pharmaceutical industry.  Did you know that when Colorado was trying to pass Amendment 64, the biggest opponents were the Beer and Liquor industry and the Pharmaceutical companies?  Do you know why?  Because they are scared of losing customers.  Plain and simple.


So, please in the future, educate yourself before writing an editorial where you act like you know what you are talking about, but you really don't.


Thank you,


Stephen Conrad

Importantlocalopinion wrote on April 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

They don't arrest sick people for buying marijuana? Thats the stupidest statement in this article. And this article contains alot of stupid. Everyday there are sick people in serious pain that the cops arrest , the DA convicts or accepts a plea, and then the media writes an article stating how much marijuana was found on them. This article is not a good reflection on the NG's ability to form coherent, informed, and persuasive opinions. You can do better!

And for our local politicians, I hope for the sake of my vote, you are not persuaded by article. 

AdvocateReason wrote on April 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

There's no more substantive reason to support legalization than freedom.  In a free society we don't restrict freedoms unless there is darn good reason.

As for your cigarette smoking crackdown vs cannabis loosening:
~443,000 deaths directly related to smoking cigarettes *each year*.
0 deaths ever directly related to the smoking of cannabis ever...*ever*.

The laws restricting the use of cannabis are FAR greater than those restricting the use of cigarettes.  It's logical that there would be a loosening of laws for a substance far more benign than cigarettes when the penalties in law are so harsh.  If you want to argue that people should be free to smoke cigarettes as well that's fine.  Adults are free to smoke in their own homes.  But there are also 40,000+ deaths associated with secondhand smoke each year.  So let's see what we can do about cutting that number while preserving freedom for those that want to smoke.

Duncan20903 wrote on April 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Profile Picture

It is laughably absurd to pretend that Illinois or anywhere in the United States has not been "introduced" to cannabis. Illinois already has plenty of cannabis.

It is laughably absurd to pretend that there are a significant number of people who are sober as the proverbial judge because cannabis is illegal. The stupidity of the absolute prohibition of cannabis may steer people into using drinking alcohol, huffing the fumes of gasoline, or any other number of legal but much more dangerous substances, but it most assuredly does not result in people choosing sobriety.

It is laughably absurd to claim that States with medicinal cannabis have a worse drug problem than States without, and this is particularly true when compared to Illinois. Illinois is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to dealing with its own drugs problem. It is laughably absurd to hold out and continue to embrace public policies which can be easily proved to be utter failure. Or is it the goal of Illinois authorities to increase the number of addicts in their State? Has Illinois been offering California addicts incentives for moving to Illinois?

California voters passed the Compassionate Use act on election day 1996. The most up to date statistics for State's residents in "treatment" for addiction from SAMHSA is through 2010.

Between 1996 and 2010:

...the number of Illinoisans in "treatment" for anything skyrocketed by 146.02% The population of Illinois increased by 8.4%

...the number of Californians in "treatment" for anything FELL 2.335% The population of California increased by 17.13%


...the number of Illinoisans in "treatment" for cocaine addiction skyrocketed by 24.76%

...the number of Californians in "treatment" for cocaine addiction FELL 36.82%


...the number of Illinoisans in "treatment" for opiate/opioid addiction skyrocketed by 559.732% That's not a typo, the INCREASE was Five Hundred Fifty Nine point seven three two per cent.

...the number of Californians in "treatment" for opiate/opioid addiction FELL 46.513%


So much for the bogus gateway "theory". Of course the last refuge for those arguing that the law is beneficial is going to be the numbers of residents in "treatment" for the fiction of merrywanna addiction:

...the number of Californians in "treatment" for the fiction of merrywanna addiction increased by 168.4% but...

...the number of Illinoisans in "treatment" for the fiction of merrywanna addiction increased by 322.286% during the same time period. Again, there's no typo, the INCREASE was Three Hundred Twenty Two point two eight six per cent.


Let me be the first to offer my congratulations to Illinois authorities. It's easy to see that you've been doing a heckuva job. Just one heckuva job.



Population numbers courtesy of the United States Census Bureau.

Fromthearea wrote on April 21, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Who even wrote this?  There's not an author listed.  Way to stand behind what you wrote.  Jeez.

Bulldogmojo wrote on April 21, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I'm sure there was a bottle of Bourbon in the bottom desk drawer of all the blue hair contributors to this typical anonymously penned article by Fox ne... err I mean the News Gazette editorial board. I hope the Tumble Inn has WiFi so they can read the posts.

laf16 wrote on April 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hilarious!  Especially given the number of smokers at the News-Gazette.  One has to wonder where the cigarette smell in the stairwell is coming from too.

Loren Anderson wrote on April 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Profile Picture

While the News-Gazette's justifications for journalistic ethics are patent and plenary, kindly do not burden those who know better with your convolutionary desperation.

Next time research who is spending the most to keep marijuana illegal.

Here you go:

1) Police Unions

2) Private Prison Corporations

3) Alcohol and Beer Corporations

4) Big Pharma

5) Prison Guard Unions

EL YATIRI wrote on April 23, 2013 at 7:04 am
Profile Picture

Those who most oppose ending cannabis prohibition are the organized criminals who are profiting handsomely.  They spend their money corrupting police, judges, and the banks that launder the money.  Why folks ignore the fact that corrupt police are part of the consequences of prohibition is beyond me.

hjw8383 wrote on April 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

This author is far from being sane!  The purpose of marijuana legalization for medicinal reasons is to curb the growing epidemic of opiate addictions in this country.  So, comparing marijuna to cigarettes is a far stretch as long term use of marijuana has still had no studies proving it causes lung cancer or any long term pulmonary issues.  The only concrete valid side effect is short term memory issues.  Marijuana is a far cry from other drugs like meth and cocaine.  The "idea" that if you smoke, eat or inhale marijuna you are more likely to move on to stronger drugs.  RUBISH!  A significant portion of the population has smoked or currently smokes marijuana and has never used any other drugs.  I really feel like all these marijuana haters need to try it for themselves before they judge... oh, wait, as with tradition in our political system here in Illinois... you proably have politicians smoking a joint right before they go vote "no" for legalization.  Idiots. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm

George W. Bush ( plus cocaine, and a DUI )

Al Gore

Barrack Obama

Bill Clinton ( smoked, but did not inhale )

Dick Cheney ( did not smoke reefer; only received 3 DUIs )

I would have strong doubts about a current politician claiming not to have smoked marijuana. I left off local politicians both current, and recently retired.

Local Yocal wrote on April 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm
Profile Picture

Thank you John Foreman or Jim Dey, or Tom Kacich or whoever wrote this incredibly stupid opinion piece. Your ignorance, intolerance, half-truths and innaccurate assumptions finally pulled out those that know the facts better to comment, and begin a better debate toward ending the ravages of Prohibition these last 40 years. Thank you.

For better information of what you are talking about, looky:

"We don't need another intoxicant," ....hilarious. Big Pharma, Carlos Nieto, Cody Sokolski, Scott Cochrane, Orange and Blue Distributors, Hamburg Distributors and the good folks from Anheiser-Busch couldn't agree more. (Hey, those guys wouldn't be advertisers of yours, would they N-G?) If you can't compete in a free enterprise system that is determined by consumer choice, then use the government to create crony capitalism through illegalization and thus, control the populations to the north.

Can't wait for the next editorial that declares owning an even more dangerous product, guns, (that shortens the attention span faster and more permanently,) to be an inalliable right of free people.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on April 30, 2013 at 4:04 am
Profile Picture

Sorry Mr. Foreman, that's 22 comments, and we all think you're wrong.

I guess you're just out of touch with the community your newspaper serves..."bummer," man.  You used to be cool!