Presented by Jasculca Terman

Quinn plans to sign medical marijuana legislation Thursday

SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn will make Illinois the 20th state to legalize the use of marijuana to treat dozens of incapacitating and life-threatening illnesses by signing legislation authorizing the drug's use, his office confirmed Wednesday evening. Quinn has scheduled a Thursday bill-signing ceremony at the University of Chicago's Center for Care and Discovery to enact a law his office said would "ease pain for those who suffer from debilitating medical conditions." The governor's action comes on legislation that took repeated efforts over several years to pass the General Assembly amid worries that using marijuana as a legal drug might serve as a gateway for some to embark on more serious drug use. The legislation Quinn will sign establishes a four-year pilot program in which those suffering from one of 42 named ailments or diseases, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and ALS, could obtain the drug with a doctor's prescription. They would be allowed to purchase and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana during a two-week period. The plan would authorize 22 growers across Illinois and permit 60 dispensaries where users could purchase the plant. Users, growers and sellers would have to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Employers and landlords could bar medicinal marijuana use in their workplaces and buildings. And, users would have to undergo field sobriety tests if police suspect they are driving under the influence of medical cannabis and could lose their driving privileges and privileges to use pot for their illnesses.