SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House sponsor of prior efforts to legalize medicinal use of marijuana has already renewed efforts in the new General Assembly.

“Medical Cannabis” was the first House bill introduced Wednesday in the new legislative session. It is sponsored by state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie.

“We have a new General Assembly, new people, new thoughts, new views of these issues,” Lang said. “We have national polls showing that the vast majority of Americans think people ought to have a product that their doctor thinks they ought to have.”

Lang said medical marijuana “is less controversial now that 19 other states have approved it and two other states have said that marijuana is legal for all purposes.”

“The idea that we would approve marijuana to help very sick people feel better should not be as controversial as it is,” he said.

Under the proposed law, certain patients could obtain medical-grade marijuana from state-regulated dealers for use in their homes.

Lang has been trying for four years to get approval for a medical marijuana law in Illinois.

In the past, Republicans led the charge to kill the legislation.

Lang said the House nearly approved the proposal last session, and he seemed optimistic about the chance of passage this time.

“If you ask most members of the last General Assembly whether they thought we should pass it, they would say yes, even those who would not vote for it because they just felt they could not do it politically,” he said.

Lang said polls show most Illinoisans strongly support a medical marijuana law, so legislators really cannot blame their own opposition on the voters.

“The failure to pass this in the past had nothing to do with constituents. It had nothing to do with what’s in the bill,” Lang said. “It only had to do with the political mind of individual legislators who don’t have the courage to do what they know is the right thing to do.”

The measure is House Bill 1.

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