Illinois legislature approves medical marijuana measure, bill awaits governor’s signature

Online Staff Report

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State lawmakers gave final approval Friday, May 17, to a measure that will allow Illinois residents with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The bill will now be transmitted to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for his signature.

The governor has said he is “open-minded” to signing the bill into law, and Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D) recently expressed support for the proposal.

The Senate approved the measure 35-21 May 17, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 April 17.

We applaud the Illinois legislature for taking action and adopting this widely supported and much-needed legislation,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The final product is a comprehensive and tightly controlled system that will allow individuals with serious illnesses to safely and legally access medical marijuana with their doctors’ supervision.

We are hopeful that Gov. Quinn will join legislators and the vast majority of Illinois voters in supporting this proposal,” Riffle added. “Marijuana has proven medical benefits, regulating it works, and there is broad public and legislative support for doing it. This is a no-brainer.”

House Bill 1, sponsored in the House by state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, and in the Senate by former state’s attorney state Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, would allow people suffering from specific medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Qualified patients would be able to obtain marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries, which would acquire marijuana from up to 22 cultivation centers. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Financial & Professional Regulation would regulate the cultivation, acquisition and distribution of marijuana.

The measure has been endorsed by the Illinois Nurses Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. Since last month, more than 265 doctors from across the state have signed on to a statement in support of safe access to medical marijuana for patients with serious illnesses. A 2008 Mason-Dixon poll found that 68 percent of Illinois voters would support a bill to allow seriously and terminally ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes with their doctors’ approval. Just 27 percent were opposed.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. Similar legislation has been introduced in 16 additional states this year, and it is anticipated in one more state.

Posted May 20, 2013

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