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Clock Ticking On Quinn's Medical Marijuana Decision

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Gov. Pat Quinn told the City Club of Chicago he is "open minded" about a bill that would legalize the medical use of marijuana in Illinois.

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The clock is ticking for Gov. Pat Quinn to make a decision about proposed medical marijuana legislation in Illinois, and supporters are hoping for a signature before the August deadline.

The state House and Senate both approved a proposal this spring that lets doctors prescribe marijuana to terminally ill patients who suffer from one of 33 listed illnesses including cancer and HIV. The bill is now on Quinn's desk.

Quinn called it "an important bill" but for the most part has remained mum on the issue since the Senate's 35-21 vote.

"I'm going to look at the bill from top-to-bottom as we do with every bill," Quinn said in May, "but I'm very open-minded on this. I think this is an issue that we can resolve and move forward."

Quinn said at the time he talked to veterans about the importance of medical marijuana to their pain management and said he realizes the benefits. Opponents say the bill encourages recreational use of marijuana by those the bill wasn't meant for and some say it's dangerous for patients.

This isn't the state's first discussion of the drug. The Chicago City Council approved a plan last summer that lets officers issue pot tickets instead of making arrests for possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less.

Under the new policy, officers have the option of issuing a ticket to someone, rather than placing them under arrest. Anyone caught with pot under the age of 17 or without proper identification is still arrested, as are those caught smoking pot in public or possessing marijuana in or near a school or park.

In the first four months, Chicago Police issued almost 400 tickets and made $98,000 in fines.

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