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Drug agents urge opposition to medical marijuana bill

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



AURORA — The California and Colorado medical marijuana statutes are causing problems in their states and nationally.

And if Illinois passes Senate Bill 1381, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois, many of the same problems may plague Illinois.

That was the message of two law enforcement officials who spoke with a handful of residents about the problems with the proposed bill this week at the Timberlake Club House on Aurora’s West Side.

“I think most people have this impression that medical marijuana is for people who are dying. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Chris Endress, director of the Quad City Metropolitan Enforcement Group. His agency serves Rock Island in western Illinois and Scott County, Iowa.

Endress gave the presentation with Bill Backus, director of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, which covers Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties.

The typical medical marijuana user is not old and dying, Endress said. Rather, they are young males. They need a card issued by a doctor to be able to use marijuana, and there are doctors known for issuing cards to anyone who comes into their office, Endress said.

Endress and Backus are speaking up on the medical marijuana issue in anticipation of a possible vote on the bill in the Illinois House as early as January. The state Senate already has passed the bill.

Under the proposed bill, caregivers would grow the marijuana. The caregivers would be allowed to grow a significantly larger amount of marijuana per patient than the patients are allowed to smoke, Backus said. This leaves the caregivers with an excess amount of marijuana.

It would be difficult to regulate the growth of medical marijuana and who is allowed to smoke it, the drug agents said. If a tenant walked up to a landlord and said they intended to grow marijuana in their building, the landlord could not refuse to rent on that basis, Backus said. And employers would not be able to take action against a patient who tested positive for the drug, Endress said.

Endress and Backus suggested waiting for a non-intoxicating, FDA-approved drug derived from marijuana. There is one in Europe that is used for the same types of purposes as medical marijuana called Sativex, which is a cannabis extract liquid spray.

“People who have MS or muscle spasms, this provides relief,” Endress said.

Backus suggested contacting local legislators. He also said local mayors and police chiefs should be urged to stand up against the bill.

If the law passes, it would allow the criminal element back into local communities, Backus said.

“We’ve worked very hard to get crime down in Aurora,” Backus said.

If the bill is approved, he said, “We’re asking the criminal element to come back into town.”

Aurora residents Carol Akers and Beth Pettit attended the meeting out of concern for what the law would mean for Aurora and their local neighborhoods. Akers lives within two blocks of Greenman Elementary School, near Galena Boulevard and Lancaster Street, on the West Side.

Because she is more than 500 feet away from the school, no regulations would be placed on her immediate neighbors, according to information given on the bill.

“If this legislation passes, Aurora will be trashed, and my neighborhood will be the first to go,” she said.



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