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Medical Marijuana Bill Goes Up In Smoke In Ill. House

UPDATED 05/06/11 7:07 a.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – A proposal to introduce medical marijuana in Illinois was shot down Thursday by the state House of Representatives.

The measure for a three-year pilot program got only 53 of the 60 votes it needed to pass. Sixty-one state lawmakers voted "no."

The vote against medical marijuana came despite reports of growing support for the bill. Recent published reports said House Republican Leader Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) has changed positions to support the bill.

Cross' change in position came after he saw a friend go through a struggle with cancer and learned that medical marijuana can be the only option to ease such suffering, the Daily Herald reported.

The bill would have allowed patients to possess a small amount of cannabis if they are suffering from cancer, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, glaucoma, Crohn's disease or Alzheimer's.

The amount would be limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days.

The bill would not have allowed prospective medical marijuana merchants to set up marijuana dispensaries, or restaurants cooking with marijuana recipes for medical cannabis cardholders, as in California and Colorado, respectively.

Instead, the bill would have barred people from buying the marijuana anywhere except 59 licensed, not-for-profit sellers.

A previous bill to legalize medical marijuana failed in the state House in January.

This time around, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), said there were tighter restrictions on the amount of medical marijuana distributed to patients, and he's taken out the grow-your-own provisions that opponents criticized during the last General Assembly.

Lang has denied he intends his proposal to be a gateway to the full legalization of marijuana.

But critics have warned that a medical marijuana program could provide cover for illegal marijuana sales.

Technically, Illinois authorized medical marijuana in 1978. But implementation was left to the Public Health Department and it never took action, so the law has been in limbo.

Do you agree with the state House vote? Leave your comments below.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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