§ 5. Findings.
(a) The recorded use of cannabis as a medicine goes back nearly 5,000 years. Modern medical research has confirmed the beneficial uses of cannabis in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in March 1999.
(b) Studies published since the 1999 Institute of Medicine report continue to show the therapeutic value of cannabis in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions. These include relief of the neuropathic pain caused by multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses that often fail to respond to conventional treatments and relief of nausea, vomiting, and other side effects of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, increasing the chances of patients continuing on life-saving treatment regimens.
(c) Cannabis has many currently accepted medical uses in the United States, having been recommended by thousands of licensed physicians to at least 600,000 patients in states with medical cannabis laws. The medical utility of cannabis is recognized by a wide range of medical and public health organizations, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many others.
(d) Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports and the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics show that approximately 99 out of every 100 cannabis arrests in the U.S. are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing State law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill patients who have a medical need to use cannabis.
(d-5) In 2014, the Task Force on Veterans' Suicide was created by the Illinois General Assembly to gather data on veterans' suicide prevention. Data from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study indicates that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
(d-10) According to the State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan released in September 2017, “The opioid epidemic is the most significant public health and public safety crisis facing Illinois”. According to the Action Plan, “Fueled by the growing opioid epidemic, drug overdoses have now become the leading cause of death nationwide for people under the age of 50. In Illinois, opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people since 2008. Just last year, nearly 1,900 people died of overdoses-almost twice the number of fatal car accidents. Beyond these deaths are thousands of emergency department visits, hospital stays, as well as the pain suffered by individuals, families, and communities”.
According to the Action Plan, “At the current rate, the opioid epidemic will claim the lives of more than 2,700 Illinoisans in 2020”.
Further, the Action Plan states, “Physical tolerance to opioids can begin to develop as early as two to three days following the continuous use of opioids, which is a large factor that contributes to their addictive potential”.
The 2017 State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan also states, “The increase in OUD [opioid use disorder] and opioid overdose deaths is largely due to the dramatic rise in the rate and amount of opioids prescribed for pain over the past decades”.
Further, according to the Action Plan, “In the absence of alternative treatments, reducing the supply of prescription opioids too abruptly may drive more people to switch to using illicit drugs (including heroin), thus increasing the risk of overdose”.
(e) Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. have removed state-level criminal penalties from the medical use and cultivation of cannabis. Illinois joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.
(f) States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with this Act does not put the State of Illinois in violation of federal law.
(g) State law should make a distinction between the medical and non-medical uses of cannabis. Hence, the purpose of this Act is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if the patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.
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