Illinois Might Join 18 Other States in Legalizing Medical Marijuana

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STATELINE (WIFR) – 18 states have legalized medical marijuana and now Illinois might join them. Legislation passed the Senate today and now it’s up to Governor Pat Quinn.

Patients struggling with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases will be able to treat their pain and anxiety by smoking marijuana if the governor signs the measure into law. Some people in the state are torn on the issue.

“There are other pain relievers out there for people who are cancer patients,” Rockford resident Yolanda Cruz said. “I really don’t think that marijuana should be legalized.”

“You can only control their pain with opiates only about 70% of the time,” Dr. Burak Emin Gezen of Chicago said. “There’s no reason not to try it on somebody who you've tried everything else on and they still have pain.”

The bill passed the Illinois Senate by a 35-21 vote earlier today. If the measure becomes law, patients can be prescribed up to two and a half ounces of medical pot every two weeks. The bill also prohibits patients from growing their own marijuana and restricts them from smoking the drug in public and in front of minors.

The bill also proposes strict penalties for abusers of the system, which is the reason some local representatives supported the measure.

"The goal is to limit this to just a limited amount of individuals that have serious or terminal illnesses,” Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson said. “This would be clearly the strictest of any state that has passed such legislation."

Though Pat Quinn has said he is open to the idea of signing the bill into law, some local representatives say they are not sure how the governor will ultimately vote.

Governor Quinn has 90 days to sign or veto the bill.

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