SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must decide if he will sign a measure allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes after the state Senate approved legislation on Friday.
The proposal has been touted as the strictest in the nation among states that have legalized medical marijuana. It authorizes physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with whom they have an existing relationship and who has at least one of more than 30 medical conditions listed on the measure.
Lawmakers voted 35-21 to send the measure to the Democratic governor. Quinn has declined to say whether he will support the bill, saying he’s “open-minded” on the issue. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a former prosecutor, said she is in favor after meeting with patients, including veterans.
The proposed legislation creates a framework for a four-year pilot program that includes requiring patients and caregivers to undergo background checks. It sets a 2.5 ounce limit per patient per purchase and calls for 60 dispensaries regulated by the state where patients could buy the drug.
Supporters of the legislation say it is a compassionate measure that could save patients from the agony caused by illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV. They argue that marijuana can relieve continual pain without triggering the harmful effects of other prescription drugs, including painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin.
Opponents contend the program could encourage the recreational use marijuana, especially among teenagers.