Illinois has made progress in the legalization of medical marijuana, but supporters of drug-policy reform say there's much more work to be done to end prohibition altogether.
Hundreds are expected to gather in Chicago on Saturday for the 2015 Global Cannabis March. Ali Nagib, assistant director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said they'll be celebrating the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, which has been rolling out over the past year and a half.
"We hope to see medicine available for patients on the shelves before the end of the year," he said, "so that's a big step in helping to get those very ill and sometimes dying patients access to this medicine that they need in a safe and legal way."
Nagib said they also are rallying to build support for further drug-policy reform, including increasing access to the medical marijuana program and the decriminalization of marijuana. House Bill 218, legislation that would reduce penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana, recently passed the House.
With other states such as Colorado and Oregon taking the lead in legalizing marijuana, Nagib said, momentum is building to end prohibition in Illinois.
"The prospect of both substantial tax revenue as well as criminal justice savings are going to be too substantial to pass up to say nothing of the civil rights and other issues around the drug war and the prohibition of cannabis, so this is a very exciting time."
Saturday's rally will be held from noon until 5 p.m. at Daley Plaza. The annual event has been held in cities around the world since 1999.