SPRINGFIELD -- Legislation to establish a medical marijuana test program in Illinois could see a vote as soon as next week.
State Rep. Lou Lang, the sponsor, said Tuesday he wants to be sure he has enough support before he calls the proposal for a vote, which he hopes will be next week.
The legislation would allow people with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana.
The measure wouldn't allow patients to possess more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana, and it prohibits them from driving for six hours after taking the drug. The program would expire after three years.
"It will be the best, most restrictive, mostly regulated law in the country," Lang said.
Lang said he hopes his legislation will have more traction this spring because 15 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized medical marijuana. Also, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, agreed to support and vote for the proposed law.
"That ought to give me a little energy on the other side of the aisle, and I'm hoping we can piece together the 60 votes we need to pass it," Lang said.
However, some previous support may be lacking among new members of the House.
For example, state Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur, said he likely will oppose the legislation. Brown replaced former state Rep. Bob Flider, who was a "yes" vote on medical marijuana.
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"I definitely don't want marijuana to be easily accessible for folks that might abuse it and have issues with it," Brown said.
A spokeswoman for Cross said some of his constituents, including a disabled veteran, asked him to support the legislation only for some of the most painful illnesses.
"Many of the people who have talked to Rep. Cross about this, including some in the medical community, have said that medical marijuana is sometimes the only thing that works to ease the tremendous pain that very ill people are experiencing," Sara Wojcicki wrote in an email.
The latest legislation shortens the list of eligible diseases and does not allow people to grow their own marijuana.
A less-restrictive version of Lang's medical marijuana legislation failed by four votes in the House during the lame-duck session in January after being approved by the state Senate.
"There will surely be people out on the House floor who are afraid of the word ‘marijuana,'" Lang said.
The Skokie Democrat said marijuana has been accepted as a treatment for pain and nausea associated with illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.
"These are not potheads, these are not people who want to get high, these are people who want to feel good," Lang said.
The legislation is House Bill 30.