Two bills -- one in the Illinois House and another in the Senate -- are moving Illinois closer than ever before to legalizing medical marijuana.
Senate Bill 1381 is a companion to a similar bill introduced in the House. The next step is a vote of the full General Assembly. One of the bill's supporters, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), said the vote won't be called "until I am sure I have enough votes to pass it."
Julie Falco has tried so many medications and injections, she can't begin to count them. Falco has multiple scleloris. The one treatment that has eased her symptoms is medical marijuana.
"I don't take this to get high; I have a better quality of life during the day," she said.
Falco now eats a cookie laced with cannabis three times a day. She's encouraged by the Illinois General Assembly moving the medical marijuana bill through both the House and Senate health committees.
Law enforcement is wary. Organizations like the South Suburban Police Chiefs Association said more research by the FDA is needed.
"We think it is going too far too soon. While 12 states have passed medical marijuana bills, 38 haven't. They have problems with it," Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said.
The Senate committee passed the bill Wednesday on a 6-3 vote. It would require patients be diagnosed with a "debilitating medical condition" and have a doctor's recommendation for using pot as a treatment. Qualified patients and their primary caregiver would have to register with the Illinois Department of Public Health for an ID card. They'd then be able to possess up to seven pot plants and 2 ounces of dried pot.
The act would automatically be repealed three years after it goes into effect unless lawmakers renew it.