Medical marijuana bill passes in the Illinois House

By Beau Ebenezer

April 17, 2013 Updated Apr 17, 2013 at 10:13 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD Ill -- Wednesday, The Illinois House of Representatives voted 61 to 57 in approval of a bill that would allow residents to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The legislation would set up a 4-year pilot program.

In order to be prescribed, a user must suffer from one of 33 ailments which includes cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Proponents of the bill say the legislation has been tightened up from past proposals and now includes more restrictions, like requiring a patients to have an on-going relationship with their doctor before a prescription can be written.

"This bill is a lot cleaner than it was two years ago," said democratic State Representative, Jehan Gordon-Booth. "This bill is unlike the other 17 states that have a law like this. The bill we have in Illinois is the tightest and cleanest of all the other bills."

However, those who voted against the bill worry about what problems the drug may cause.

"Law enforcement has very serious concerns about this," said republican State Representative, Don Moffitt. "They consider it a gateway drug. They're concerned about potential impairment with driving. Some states where it has been tried, additional problems have occurred."

Republican State Representative, Mike Unes also voted against the legislation.

He said the drug should be approved on the federal level before being considered as a medical treatment.

"Why don't we treat all of them the same like we do every other drug in the United States," said Unes. "There's a process that it goes through. It has to become an approved drug and get listed with the FDA."

The legislation has fallen short in passing through the House before.

However, the Senate passed a similar bill in 2009, leaving many to believe this bill will soon become a law.

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have approved some form of marijuana use for medical purposes.

If the bill is passed in the Senate, and signed by Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois would then become number 18.

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