Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a bill into law Thursday legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois in a ceremony at the University of Chicago.
Supporters say the four-year trial program will be the strictest law of its kind in the nation. Medical cannabis could be used to relieve nausea from cancer treatment, ease stress on people with multiple sclerosis and comfort AIDS patients.
The Democratic governor's signature will add Illinois to a growing list of 19 other states and the District of Columbia that have made marijuana legal in some form, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
For years, the measure had failed to gain traction at the Capitol, particularly in the House. But this spring sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, was able to cobble together the votes needed to send the bill to the Senate, where a similar but less restrictive bill had passed in previous years.
"Our goal from the beginning was to provide a better quality of life for some very sick people in Illinois," Lang said. "When the governor signs the bill, it'll be a signal to many people that the state of Illinois still has a good deal of compassion, a good deal of concern for those of us, under a doctor's care, who wish to try a new type of therapy … to simply feel better."