SEATTLE - AUGUST 21: An older woman smokes a marijuana joint at Seattle's Hempfest on August 21, 2004. More than 150,000 people were expected to attend Hempfest at Seattle's Myrtle Edwards Park on Seattle's waterfront on August 21-22, 2004. The event is billed as the world's largest drug-policy reform rally. Events included political speakers and dozens of bands and performers on six stages and over 20 organizations were present registering new voters. (Photo by Ron Wurzer/Getty Images)
Illinois could become the 15th state to allow medical marijuana if everything goes State Representative Lou Lang’s way.
Lang (D-Skokie) is the chief sponsor of a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to chronically ill patients in lieu of narcotics like Oxycontin and Vicodin. Patients who receive the prescription and garner state licensing could own up to three plants under the proposed legislation, according to WBBM.
"It requires them to get a license from the Illinois Dept. of Public health, which would monitor and license each person, and it provides strict penalties for those who break the law, or use the marijuana and drive, or try to sell it or distribute it," Lang said.
Lang told WBBM that more than 90 members of the Illinois House support the bill privately, but nearly 40 of them don’t want to vote for it because of the political fallout.
Representative Lang says he is waiting for the right time to call the bill to the floor for a vote. He said Speaker Michael Madigan promised to call for a vote if Lang can gather the votes.
If it passes the house – it already passed the senate about 10 months ago – indications are that Governor Pat Quinn would sign the measure.
Dr. Quentin Young the Illinois Public Health Advocate and Quinn's personal physician supports the measure.
"The medical profession has no controversy on this, to speak of," Dr. Young said.
Historically Illinois has not been averse to medical marijuana. The state passed legislation that came close to making it legal in 1978, but left in the measure some legalese that required state cops to sign off on the bill, according to the Chicago Reader.
Lang's legislation, and the measure voted on by the senate last year, would close that loophole.