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Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Help Ease Pain for Adults and Children with Seizures

Press Release - Sunday, July 20, 2014

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to add the treatment of adults and children with seizures to the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protecting and improving the health of the people of Illinois.

“This new law will help alleviate the suffering of many adults and children across the state,” Governor Quinn said. “Epilepsy is a debilitating condition, and this much needed relief will help to reduce some of its symptoms for those who endure seizures. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act is now designed to help our fellow citizens of all ages by allowing its strictly controlled use for specific medical conditions.”

“This legislation was really an initiative by scores of families in Illinois with children that experience literally hundreds of seizures a day,” Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago President and CEO Kurt Florian said. “Many of these families have uprooted for treatment in Colorado and have experienced dramatic reductions in seizures from oil based, low to zero THC medical cannabis. We are thankful to our sponsors and applaud Governor Quinn for signing this legislation which will help hundreds of children and families.”

Senate Bill 2636, sponsored by State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act to allow children under 18, with a parent’s consent, to be treated with non-smokable forms of medical marijuana for the same range of conditions now available to adults. The bill also adds seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, to the list of debilitating medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will create rules for the treatment of children using medical marijuana. The legislation is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

“I’m pleased that legislators on both sides of the aisle came together to pass legislation that means everything to these families,” Senator Martinez said. “My colleagues and I have been deeply moved by the plight of these children and their parents, who courageously and tenaciously pursue any option that could bring relief and better health to their kids. There is no better reward for public service than having the opportunity to ease the suffering of a child.”

“This gives parents an important, life-saving treatment option for their children who have epilepsy,” State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), the bill’s chief co-sponsor, said. “It gives their kids, who are faced with the daily threats of seizures, the opportunity to improve their quality of life.”

“I am pleased that Governor Quinn has agreed to sign this important legislation, which provides needed help to those of all ages who suffer with epilepsy and creates a pathway for children with other painful and debilitating medical conditions to secure a much better quality of life,” Representative Lang said. “Without the strong support and encouragement from Governor Quinn, the program would never have gotten off the ground.”

“I have a 14 year old constituent by the name of Hugh who lives with Epilepsy,” House Republican leader and chief co-sponsor Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said. “His parents, Bob and Kelly, want to provide their son with as much relief as possible. Unfortunately, traditional medications and methods have not worked. It’s our hope that this new law will provide much needed relief for Hugh and thousands of other children.”

"My family is grateful to the Illinois Legislature and Governor for their sensible addition of those with seizure conditions to the Compassionate Care Act,” Randy Gross, the parent of a child with epilepsy, said. “We admire their particular courage in explicitly including children with seizures, and in giving an option to children with other chronic conditions to petition for relief. On behalf of all parents of those with epilepsy, we would also like to thank the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago for their support and guidance of this effort as well. Finally, for those of us who left Illinois to pursue this treatment, we are overjoyed and anxious to come home soon."

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which Governor Quinn signed into law in 2013, will help ease pain for people across Illinois who suffer from debilitating medical conditions. Illinois became the 21st state to enact such legislation, which includes some of the nation’s strongest restrictions on the cultivation, dispensing and use of medical marijuana. Scientific evidence has found that medical cannabis can provide relief from continual pain, nausea and discomfort more effectively than conventional medications for patients suffering from serious ailments, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and HIV.

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