After years of close calls, state Rep. Lou Lang is confident he may finally have enough votes to pass a bill he has long championed -- one that would make medical marijuana legal in Illinois -- but that vote won't happen this week.
According to the Associated Press, Lang will wait until next week to call a vote on the matter, because "a whole bunch" of the votes he is counting on are "wavering."
"If members vote their consciences, I'll have the votes," Lang, a Skokie Democrat, said in the Tribune.
Historically, Lang has something in common with Charlie Brown and his football when it comes to his efforts to bring legal medical marijuana to the Prairie State.
The state representative has wound up several times to get the bill passed in the Legislature, narrowly missing the number of required votes each time. As Progress Illinois notes, the medical marijuana bill was already approved in the state Senate in 2010, but it's the House that keeps blocking legislation from moving forward, most recently last year, and forcing supportive lawmakers to make the proposal more strict.
With approximately 60 votes in hand -- the minium needed for approval, Lang had hoped to push the bill to a vote in the House's veto session on Wednesday.
"I ran down the roll call about 10 times just today," Lang said in the AP Tuesday. "It's hovering around 60. I could be a couple short. I could be a few over."
Freeport Republican Rep. Jim Sacia has acknowledged Lang may have the votes needed, but Sacia, a former FBI agent, still plans to fight the bill.
"I just see it as a tremendous mistake," said Sacia. The AP said Sacia predicts recreational drug users will abuse the law by seeking out doctors willing to say a patient has a qualifying illness.
Republican State Rep. Tom Morrison, of Palatine, told Reuters he too will oppose the bill because he considers marijuana to be a "gateway drug" to other illegal substances.
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. told the AP if passed, the bill would be the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the nation. It would allow for qualified patients under medical care to buy and use up to 2.5 ounces of pot during a two-week period as part of a three-year pilot program.
The bill's passage would make Illinois the nation's second most populous state to legalize medical marijuana, Reuters reports.