Film Sparks Discussion at SIU About Medicinal Marijuana

Film Sparks Discussion at SIU About Medicinal Marijuana
By: Carly O'Keefe
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Should medical marijuana be legal in the Heartland? That was the topic of discussion at Southern Illinois University Thursday evening.
A film titled "Waiting to Inhale" introduced SIU students to the world in which chronically or terminally ill patients live--many of whom have few options for pain management.
"Many patients who suffer from AIDS, multiple sclerosis... arthritis, there's a low level pain there that narcotics can't hit, and cannabis seems to hit that," said Director John Walker of the Illinois Compassion Action Network (ICAN).

Filmmaker Jed Riffe's ambition with "Waiting to Inhale" is to urge all 50 states pass laws to offer an alternative to current prescription pain treatment. "Waiting to Inhale' is the title of the film because most people outside of the 12 states that have passed these laws--people are waiting to use this drug," said Riffe.

In May, a bill that would have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes failed in the Illinois Senate by a handful of votes. "We lost by eight votes. I feel this year is the tipping point, I think this will be our year," said Walker. "If Illinois and New York go, then the rest of the states will fall like dominoes, and the federal government will have to allow it to be used as medicine," said Riffe.

While opponents view marijuana as a gateway drug, Walker hopes Riffe's film opens the gate to discussion about its possible uses as a viable treatment. "People say marijuana and they giggle. But the fact is, this is medicine that works for many patients, and making this medicine legal so patients can access it safely will change and save lives," said Walker.