Medical marijuana bill clears Illinois Senate committee

illinois-medical-marijuana hemp beach tv hbtvA key panel of Senate lawmakers advanced legislation Wednesday that would allow patients with certain illnesses to use marijuana to ease their symptoms.

The measure was approved on a 10-5 vote by the Senate Executive Committee despite concerns raised by law enforcement officials that the bill would not prevent medical marijuana card holders from driving while under the influence.

The proposal has already passed the House. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he is “open minded” to the legislation but must give the matter further review.

Under the bill, a four year pilot program would be established to allow doctors to prescribe patients no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks. Patients would have to buy from one of 60 dispensing centers across the state and could not grow their own.

Sponsoring Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, said the rules were the toughest in the nation. A former State’s Attorney, Haine promised the bill is “not an opening to legalization” of recreational pot use.

Opponents said they acknowledged the relief marijuana could provide but questioned unintended consequences.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter to the governor and lawmakers warning the proposal would create a “public safety nightmare” because card holders could “take a toke then take the wheel.”

They argue the legislation should include blood and urine testing to allow police to determine whether a card holder had marijuana in their system while driving.

Supporters of the legislation contend laws already exist to prosecute anyone who drives under the influence of marijuana while noting that there is no standard to determine a driver’s level of impairment.

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