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Illinois Lawmakers Send Medical Marijuana Bill To Governor

The Illinois Senate has approved a measure to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, sending the bill to the governor for his signature.

The bill would be the strictest in the nation. According to The Chicago Tribune:

"The proposal would create a four-year trial program in which doctors could prescribe patients no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. To qualify, patients must have one of 33 serious or chronic conditions — including cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV — and an established relationship with a doctor.

Patients would undergo fingerprinting and a criminal background check and would be banned from using marijuana in public and around minors. Patients also could not legally grow marijuana, and they would have to buy it from one of 60 dispensing centers across Illinois. The state would license 22 growers."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has not said whether he will sign the bill into law, but has indicated that 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 Associated Press reports.

The Senate passed it 35-21. The House approved the same version of the bill in April. You can read it here.

The Tribune says:

"The measure drew strong opposition from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association, which sent a letter to the governor and lawmakers warning the proposal would not stop medical marijuana card holders from driving while under the influence. They suggested blood and urine testing be included in the legislation to allow police to determine whether card holders had marijuana in their system while driving."

If Gov. Quinn signs the bill, Illinois would become the 19th state to approve medical marijuana since California became the first to do so in 1996. The District of Columbia also allows its use. Eleven states, including Illinois, have legislation pending.

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