Medical marijuana use in Illinois is now in Gov. Pat Quinn's hands after the state Senate approved legislation.
Lawmakers voted 35-21 Friday to send the measure to Quinn for final approval. Quinn hasn't signaled whether he will sign it into law.
The proposal allows physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with specific terminal illnesses or debilitating medical conditions. Cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV are among the 33 illnesses listed in the bill.
The measure gives a framework for a four-year pilot program that includes requiring patients and caregivers to undergo background checks.
Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without triggering the detrimental side effects of other prescription drugs. Opponents say the program could encourage the recreational use of marijuana especially among teenagers.
“We applaud the Illinois Legislature for taking action and adopting this widely supported and much-needed legislation,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project.
“We are hopeful that Gov. Quinn will join legislators and the vast majority of Illinois voters in supporting this proposal,” Riffle said. “Marijuana has proven medical benefits, regulating it works, and there is broad public and legislative support for doing it. This is a no-brainer.”