Legislation that would bring legal medical marijuana to Illinois cleared a key Senate committee vote on Wednesday.
The marijuana bill was approved by a vote of 10-5 by the Senate Executive Committee late Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The bill will next be considered by the full Senate, which approved similar, more strict legislation in 2009. The proposal was already OKed by the state House of Representatives last month and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has said he is "open-minded" on the matter.
Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, applauded the Senate Executive Committee's vote and was hopeful that the full Senate will follow their lead.
"We hope their colleagues will agree that seriously ill people who benefit from medical marijuana should not have to risk being arrested and prosecuted," Riffle said in a statement.
The measure advanced Wednesday despite the concerns of some law enforcement groups who fear the bill's motorist safeguards are not strict enough.
As KWQC reports, some police officers say field sobriety tests officers are currently trained for are not effective for detecting impairment from marijuana.
The bill would establish a four-year pilot program during which individuals with diseases including cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis would be able to get a special ID card allowing them to buy limited amounts -- up to two-and-a-half ounces -- of medical marijuana from one of 60 state-licensed dispensaries.
If the full Senate OKs the bill and it also gets the governor's signature, Illinois would become the 19th U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana. The bill has been described by its sponsor, state Rep. Lou Lang, as "model legislation for the [rest of the] country."