SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Support is growing in Springfield for legalizing medical marijuana.

Published reports say House Republican Leader Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) has changed positions to support the bill.

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Cross’ change in position came after he saw a friend go through a struggle with cancer and learned that medical marijuana can be the only option to ease such suffering, the Daily Herald reported.

The current medical marijuana bill passed out of an Illinois House committee last month. It would allow patients to possess a small amount of cannabis if they are suffering from cancer, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease or Alzheimer’s.

The amount would be limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days.

A previous bill to legalize medical marijuana failed in the state House in January.

This time around, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), says there are tighter restrictions on the amount of medical marijuana distributed to patients, and he’s taken out the grow-your-own provisions that opponents criticized during the last General Assembly.

Neither the failed bill nor the one currently pending have allowed prospective medical marijuana merchants to set up marijuana dispensaries, or restaurants cooking with marijuana recipes for medical cannabis cardholders, as in California and Colorado, respectively.

Lang has denied he intends his proposal to be a gateway to the full legalization of 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.

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