Medical marijuana bill passes Senate committee


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- An Illinois Senate committee has approved a proposal that would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Senate Executive Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday to send the measure to the full Senate, despite the fact some top law enforcement groups in Illinois expressed concern, saying provisions in the state's pending medical marijuana legislation are not strict enough to protect the safety of drivers.

The proposal allows physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions. The measure creates a pilot program that limits the frequency and amount of marijuana patients can buy.

The bill, passed last month by the House, was sponsored by state Representative Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat. He described the legislation as a "model" for the rest of the country.

The House plan calls for the establishment of a four-year pilot program during which people with diseases such as HIV, cancer, and multiple sclerosis would be able to get a special identification card to buy limited amounts (up to 2.5 ounces) from one of 60 state licensed dispensaries.

Medical marijuana consumers automatically consent to submit themselves to a sobriety field test should a police officer suspect they were driving under the influence of the drug. Some opponents say the test works for alcohol but not marijuana.

Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without causing the harmful side effects of some prescription drugs.

Governor Pat Quinn has previously stated he is open to the idea.


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