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Outgoing Governor Flip-Flops on Medical Pot

Maureen Meehan

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In a parting shot, outgoing Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn delayed issuing licenses to medical marijuana growers and dispensaries on his last day in office. And unfortunately, incoming Governor Bruce Rauner made it clear during his campaign that he did not support medical marijuana. Hence, Quinn’s last minute about-face has left the medical cannabis community in a precarious situation.

Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana in August 2013. Since that time, 600 patients have been approved for their cards. However, there is not a single place to legally purchase pot in the state.

“For my multiple sclerosis, I’ve found [specific types of marijuana] very helpful,” said Claire Mooney, an acupuncturist in Chicago. However, with no licensed dispensaries, finding the best strain remains a challenge. “I just have to scour the streets for my Maui Waui,” she said.

Kurt Florian, president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, said patients seeking relief from marijuana across the state were disheartened. “To do a 180 like this and not come through, it’s very disappointing.”

Back when former Gov. Quinn, a democrat, needed the votes, he showcased veteran Jim Champion, 48, who also suffers from multiple sclerosis. Champion now says he’s “thoroughly disgusted by Quinn’s inaction.”

Democratic State Rep. Lou Lang, a leading sponsor of medical marijuana, called Quinn a failure for leaving office without approving licensing to grow and distribute medical marijuana in Illinois.

Katelyn Harper, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, says she hopes that going forward, policy makers will avoid unnecessary delays. “We are real people who have real lives, real jobs, friends, family.”

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