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Medical Marijuana Bill Rejected By House On Busy Day In Springfield

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On an otherwise busy Thursday in Springfield, lawmakers voted to reject a bill that would allow some Illinois patients access to medical marijuana.

The House sponsor of the bill, Democratic Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, previously told the State Journal-Register that he would have the votes needed if all supporters showed up. They didn't, and even though the measure was brought up for a vote twice Thursday, it failed on both tries.

The State Journal-Register reports:

Senate Bill 1381 failed in the Illinois House by a vote of 56 yes, 60 no. The legislation would have given patients with chronic conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma or multiple sclerosis, the right to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for their own use.

Lang told STL Today that he plans to reintroduce the legislation.

"I am going to continue to press on -- on this particular piece of legislation, or some version of it -- until I pass it," Lang told STL Today. "Next year, the year after ... I'm a young man. I'll be here awhile."

Opponents of Lang's bill told the Associated Press they were worried the state would have trouble regulating medical marijuana and that it sends the wrong message to the state's youth.

"This (proposal) isn't about medical marijuana, it's just about the easing of the ability of people to obtain it, and if you look at other states who've done that, that's just what happened," Republican Rep. Rich Brauer told SJR.

Supporters of abolishing the state's death penalty were more fortunate Thursday. Though the legislation to halt state-sponsored execution failed by one vote on its first try, sponsors were able to change the mind of one state representative the second time around.

Rep. Pat Verschoore voted against the bill the first time, but was ultimately the "yes" vote needed to pass the legislation. Verschoore said State Rep. Karen Yarbrough asked him to reconsider, and he did.

"I was on both sides of this issue," Verschoore told the Illinois Statehouse News. "But then you think of the potential cost savings of this bill, and the state needs all of the savings we can get. Besides, my wife was on me to vote for it."

Also on Thursday, Gov. Pat Quinn reached a deal with top Democratic lawmakers involving the much-hyped income tax increase. Quinn was vocal about his plan to raise the state's income taxes during last year's campaign, and the 75 percent increase could come up for a vote as soon as Friday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Read more about the tax hike here.