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marijuana, Elgin criminal defense attorneyOpioid abuse has become a major public health crisis in recent decades. Many individuals become addicted to opioids after being prescribed drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, OxyContin, or Percocet to manage extreme pain. Opioids are extremely addictive, and when a person continually takes these drugs, they eventually need more and more to feel the same pain-relieving effects. Many people become addicted to pain pills and then end up turning to heroin or fentanyl. Each day, an estimated 155 people lose their lives to opioid overdose. Some experts believe that medical cannabis could be the key to reducing the staggering number of opioid overdose deaths.

Studies Compared States with Legalized Medical Marijuana in States Without Legalized Marijuana

Recently, two studies regarding the medicinal benefits of cannabis were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers compared opioid prescription frequency for states which have allowed the legal use of marijuana to those states which have not adopted legalized cannabis. One study analyzed opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D and the other considered opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid.

Through the investigation, it was determined that states which allow medical cannabis had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed than states without legalized medicinal marijuana. Furthermore, states which allow citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes have 5.88% fewer opioid prescriptions under Medicaid than states which have not legalized medicinal use. David Bradford, researcher, and professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia describes the significance of these comparisons. "This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications," he explains.

Low-Level Possession of Marijuana in Illinois Is Decriminalized

Medical marijuana is legal in Illinois for those who are properly registered with the state, but possession for any other reason is against the law. Holding less than 10 grams of marijuana is only a civil violation which incurs a maximum fine of $200. Possession of a larger amount of marijuana can be considered a felony offense which is punishable by several years in jail. The sale, trafficking, or cultivation of marijuana in Illinois is punishable by even more severe consequences.

If You Have Been Charged with a Drug-Related Criminal Offense, You Need an Attorney

Those found guilty of drug charges can face serious punitive consequences including imprisonment. If you are an Illinois resident who has been arrested for a drug-related crime, an effective defense strategy can help keep you out of jail. To speak with an experienced Kane County drug crimes attorney from The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, call 847-488-0889 today.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/02/health/medical-cannabis-law-opioid-prescription-study/index.html

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072005500K4

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medical marijuana, Kane County drug crimes defense lawyerLast week, an Illinois House panel called The House Elementary Education Committee unanimously approved legislation which would allow school children to consume medical marijuana in school. The proposed legislation would allow a parent or legal guardian to administer infused medical marijuana on school grounds and in school-owned transportation.

Medical Marijuana Prevents Student’s Seizures

House Bill 4870 was largely influenced by a lawsuit brought by parents of a child who has seizures. The girl suffers from seizures after undergoing chemotherapy treatment, and medical marijuana is the only medication which effectively controls them. The parents sued the school because they were not allowed to change their daughter’s medical marijuana patch or administer medical marijuana oil under her tongue on school grounds. As the law currently stands, a school nurse could lose his or her license if they administered medical marijuana to a student – even if the student has a valid medical marijuana card. Although it is unlikely, the student and her parents could face criminal prosecution for sending the girl to school with a medical marijuana patch. Advocates of the bill say that this is unacceptable.

Only Medical Cannabis Will Be Included in Bill

The proposed legislation does not allow students to smoke marijuana in the schools. Parents are only allowed to administer infused products to their children. This includes food, oils, or other products which contain medical marijuana but are not smoked. If the bill passes the full House and is eventually signed by the governor, schools will be required to allow parents and legal guardians to administer medical marijuana to their children in school. Children must have a valid pre-approved medical marijuana card in order to qualify for this opportunity.

The measure is sponsored by State Representative Lou Lang. He said of the bill, "Before anyone sets their hair on fire about medical marijuana in school, it&s important to understand that tots won&t be toking up in class. Discreet, private locations in a school will set aside for parents to administer the product and have no impact on anyone else in the building." Colorado, New Jersey, Maine and Washington state already allow students to use medical marijuana at school.

Experienced Kane County Criminal Defense Lawyer

To be clear, marijuana of any kind, including medical cannabidiol is currently not allowed in schools. If you or your child has been charged with a drug-related crime, you need an attorney who will help you understand your rights and protect your freedom. Call 847-488-0889 to speak with a skilled Elgin drug crimes defense attorney at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/skokie/community/chi-ugc-article-medical-marijuana-administered-in-schools-by-2018-03-12-story.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/22/health/medical-marijuana-school-illinois/index.html

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study, Elgin drug crimes defense attorneyWhen the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program finally got underway in late 2015, Illinois lawmakers hoped that legalizing marijuana for those with approved medical conditions would have positive results. The main goal of the program was to help such patients alleviate pain and to deal with chronic health problems while reducing the need for highly-addictive opioid prescriptions. A new peer-reviewed study suggests that the pilot program seems to be working.

Limited Study Participants

The limited-scale survey was conducted by researchers at DePaul University and Rush University and included responses from 30 patients currently registered for the Illinois medical marijuana program. The project, while small, is the first peer-reviewed, published study regarding medical marijuana use in Illinois specifically. The study’s authors acknowledge that the survey was not large enough to extrapolate percentages or quantified conclusions, the response received did provide anecdotal support for other studies that suggest medical cannabis may help reduce the use of opioids.

The participants were all volunteers, which led the researchers to note that the subjects’ opinions may skew in favor of marijuana, but the feedback provided much needed qualitative information about how the drug is being used so future studies can be done with better accuracy.

An Alternative to Prescription Painkillers

The average age of the participants was 45, and most used marijuana for chronic pain, seizures, or inflammation. They anonymously reported that they had numerous concerns about tolerance, side effects, and addiction when it came to prescription drugs. Marijuana, overall, was reported to manage certain symptoms better, faster, and for longer periods of time than prescription medications. Subjects claimed that using marijuana helped a number of them eliminate the need for prescriptions that were "frightening" and could make a patient feel like a "zombie."

The study’s lead author is presently working on another project that has already accumulated more than 10 times the number of responses. With about 25,000 registered participants statewide, larger studies will certainly be needed to gauge the pilot program’s success.

Facing Drug Charges?

Possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is still a criminal offense for those who are not registered to participate in the state’s medical cannabis program. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with marijuana possession, you need an advocate who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Elgin drug crimes defense attorney to discuss your case. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

https://www.ilnews.org/news/health/study-illinois-patients-use-medical-marijuana-as-an-alternative-to/article_f48f5ec4-ad30-11e7-b2c0-67588c6d9d39.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-medical-marijuana-illinois-study-painkillers-met-20171008-story.html

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decriminalization, Kane County criminal defense attorneyFor the second time in two years, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner will have to decide whether or not to approve legislation that would make low-level possession of marijuana a civil offense rather than a crime. Last summer, the Republican governor used his amendatory veto authority to rewrite the proposed decriminalization measure, reducing the amount of marijuana to be considered low-level and increasing the punitive fines. Last year’s bill eventually stalled before making it back to the governor’s desk, but this year’s version also includes the changes Rauner made a year ago.

Current Legal Guidelines

Under existing Illinois law, if you possess or use marijuana, you are subject to criminal prosecution unless you have been formally approved for participation in the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. While many people may not think of marijuana possession as a serious crime, possession of up to 2.5 grams is a Class C misdemeanor, and up to 10 grams constitutes a Class B misdemeanor. Anything more than 10 grams is a may be prosecuted as a felony depending upon your conviction history, and potential penalties are increased if you are found to have intent to deliver.

Proposed Changes

Despite the inclusion of provisions suggested by the governor himself, there is no guarantee that Rauner will sign the measure this time around. Should he decide to do so, however, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana would no longer be prosecutable as a crime. Instead, it would be considered a civil offense, similar in nature to a traffic ticket. Individuals guilty of low-level possession would be ordered to pay a fine of at least $100 and as much as $200. The new law would also require the circuit court overseeing the jurisdiction issuing the fine to expunge all low-level possession records twice per year, once on January 1 and again on July 1.

Opportunity for Progress

Many around the state see the decriminalization of minor marijuana possession as a clear step in the right direction. They believe that zealous prosecution of non-violent drug crimes—especially those involving marijuana—tend to waste municipal and state resources. From a policy perspective, the measure would also contribute to Governor Rauner’s stated goals of significantly reducing the population of the Illinois prison system.

If you have been charged with possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, you need an attorney who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Elgin, Illinois today. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule your free confidential consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-marijuana-decriminalization-legislation-0519-20160518-story.html

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1937&

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/99/SB/PDF/09900SB2228lv.pdf

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marijuana, decriminalization, Elgin criminal defense attorneyAs more states around the country are beginning to reconsider the criminal prosecution of low-level marijuana possession, the debate continues here in Illinois as well. Despite last year’s bipartisan efforts to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of the drug, the measure stalled when Governor Bruce Rauner took issue with limits that he found too permissive and fines that he thought were too lenient. The topic is now back under consideration by the state Senate as part of an omnibus bill which may see a vote as early as next month.

Lower Possession Threshold, Higher Fines

Compared to last year’s legislation, this year’s version is a little stricter. The bill proposes to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana—down from 15 grams—a civil offense, on par with a traffic violation. Last year, Governor Rauner thought the proposed fines of $55 to $125 to be too low, so the current measure would allow the financial penalties to range from $100 to $200, dependent upon the circumstances of the offense. The governor’s office has expressed its general approval regarding lawmakers’ cooperation with Rauner’s requests, and "will continue monitoring the legislation."

Expungements

Another major consideration in the bill is that it would allow local citation records regarding marijuana to be purged on an annual basis. Thus, offenders who were cited on separate occasions more than a year apart would not be treated as repeat offenders and thus subject to higher fines. Critics of this provision suggest that the expungement of possession records would make it very difficult to determine if a particular individual needs rehabilitation or substance abuse treatment in the event of future, more serious offenses.

Drugged Driving Limit

The proposed law would also, for the first time, establish a quantifiable standard for impairment related to driving under the influence. Currently, the state follows a zero-tolerance system which means that any trace of marijuana in a driver’s system—regardless of the fact that traces can remain for weeks after consumption—could be grounds for a DUI charge. If the omnibus is passed in its existing form, the legal limit would be set at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, a standard that experts say is roughly equivalent to the .08 percent blood-alcohol content limit in place for drunk driving situations.

Uncertain Future

While the legislation is part of a statewide effort to reduce the prison population and increase consistency in enforcing drug laws, it also has garnered a fair share of criticism. Many are concerned that decriminalization sends the wrong message about marijuana and that the proposed guidelines are still not strong enough. Even if the Senate approves the bill, it would still need to be approved in the House and be signed by the governor before it can take effect. For now, the outcome is decidedly undecided.

If you or a family member has been charged with drug possession under the current laws in Illinois, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney. We will help you understand your situation and work with you in exploring options for avoiding a criminal conviction. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Source:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-illinois-pot-decriminalization-20160325-story.html

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