Illinois Senate Sends Medical Marijuana To Governor

May 17, 2013

Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, standing at right, debates medical marijuana in the Illinois Senate on Friday, May 17, 2013.
Credit Chris Slaby/WUIS

The Illinois Senate approved legislation Friday that would legalize the medical use of marijuana.

In the end, the vote was not that close — 35 senators voted yes, 21 no.

Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, sponsored the measure. He frequently reminds his colleagues he was once a prosecutor, and says the idea is to help people in pain find relief.

“It is not about recreational drug use,” Haine says. “It is not about using this substance to get ‘high,’ quote-unquote.”

But opponents say that’s just what they think will happen. “We’re making a decision today to say in our communities that marijuana use is OK,” says Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.

Anyone wanting medical marijuana will have to prove they have one of several dozen listed conditions, ranging from cancer and HIV to a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.

The measure now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who says he’s “open minded” on the idea.