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Vote Coming On Medical Marijuana Proposal

Photo Of Marijuana Plants. (AP Photo)

Photo Of Marijuana Plants. (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) - A vote is expected Tuesday on a bill that would allow for medical marijuana in Illinois.

The state House is expected to take a vote on the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, or SB 1381. While the state Senate passed the bill last year, it would need to return to the Senate for a new vote if it passes the House.

Gov. Pat Quinn said he would sign the bill if state lawmakers approve it.

The bill would commence a three-year pilot program allowing people suffering from certain “debilitating” illnesses to possess up to six cannabis plants. The bill limits the illnesses that would qualify for medical marijuana to cancer, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

Pointing to those with pain or nausea from chemotherapy, sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said last year that other than medical marijuana, “People cannot get relief in any other place, except totally sedating and debilitating medication that makes them unable to cope with life.”

Under the law, medical marijuana users would have to register and hold cards, and could face two years in prison if they shared with those not legally allowed to use cannabis.

But the bill has met with stiff resistance, particularly from law enforcement groups. They have complained other states with similar laws have reported problems like increased crime around distribution sites and forged medical cards.

The Carbondale Southern Illinoisan said downstate legislators believe the bill is unlikely to pass the House. In a Nov. 14 story, the newspaper quoted state Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), “I don’t see it passing anytime soon.”

So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.

Technically, Illinois authorized medical marijuana in 1978. But implementation was left to the Public Health Department and it never took action, so the law has been in limbo.