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Where's the Marijuana?

By Sean Stillmaker in News on Dec 4, 2010 9:00PM

Graphic By Konrad Biegaj
Across the country the decriminalization of marijuana has been taking place in the legal system. Dispensaries are popping up all over the west coast and more states are legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. But why won’t the Illinois legislature get with the program?

Earlier this week Illinois’ medicinal marijuana bill, SB 1381, was pulled from consideration when House chief sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) saw the 53-59-1 total. The bill only needed 60 votes to pass, but it can now be considered later in the future. In May the Senate passed the bill 30-28.

There are many fallacies associated with Illinois’ medicinal marijuana law. It is the most stringent bill of the 15 states, 30 percent of the U.S., that have medical marijuana laws in place. The law expires after three years to see how it progresses. Medical marijuana can only be given to patients with a debilitating medical condition that show previous care attempts yielded negative results.

On the Nov. 2 ballot there were three states that had medicinal marijuana referendums for consideration, only one passed it. Arizona passed Proposition 203 by 4,300 votes. South Dakota’s Measure 13 was defeated by 63 percent and Oregon’s Measure 74 was defeated by 57 percent.

California had a total legalization effort on the ballot and of course you cannot depend on Cali for anything. Proposition 19 failed by 54%, you figure this would be their bread and butter but they dropped the ball just like Prop 8 (still wondering how that happened, even though the court overturned it).

But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped in and decriminalized marijuana some more. Starting in January, possession of an ounce or less is an infraction with a $100 fine. In Illinois an ounce or more is a felony with a $25,000 fine and up to three years in prison. Just 2.5 grams in Illinois will get you a misdemeanor and a $1,500 fine. And if you think you're sly with that legal incense, the DEA is cracking down on that, too.

Are medicinal marijuana laws a stepping stone to full legalization? Entrepreneurs aren’t waiting to find out. The pot business is huge with a capitalist circle encompassing farming, distribution, advertising yielding big money to fill the war chest of politicians. Just last week the National Cannabis Industry Association was created.