Medical marijuana extension passes Senate committee

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – A measure extending Illinois’ medical marijuana program beyond 2017 has passed an Illinois Senate committee.

The Senate Executive Committee approved the measure Wednesday with an 8-3 vote. It heads to the Senate floor.

The legislation changes the program’s duration to four years from when the first dispensary begins operating instead of an automatic repeal scheduled for Jan. 1, 2018.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has approved 2,300 medical marijuana patients since September. However, dispensaries likely won’t start selling the drug until later this year.

Sponsor Democrat Sen. William Haine of Alton says many people have invested “considerable money” in setting up the program.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he wants the program to be thoroughly reviewed before deciding whether to extend it.

The bill is HB3229.

Online: http://www.ilga.gov/