With legislation that would bring legal medical marijuana to Illinois pending in the statehouse, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon on Sunday announced the bill has her support.
According to the Associated Press, Simon said she was initially opposed to the proposal, but had a change of heart after reviewing the bill's regulations and hearing testimony from seriously ill patients who would benefit from it.
"It does a good job of both getting medical marijuana to people who need and keeping it away from those who don't," Simon said, according to the AP.
The bill would establish a four-year pilot program during which individuals with serious 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.
The measure was approved last week by the Senate Executive Committee and will next be considered by the full Senate, which approved similar, less regulation-heavy legislation in 2009.
The program is tightly restrictive, not accepting "chronic pain" as a qualifying condition for use and not recognizing qualifying patients who live in other states, unlike other states who have approved medical marijuana bills, Medill Reports previously noted. The bill also requires that patients have an established doctor-patient relationship before a doctor can OK marijuana use.
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.