Overshadowed by coverage of house passage of the civil unions bill was Wednesday's defeat — yet again — of a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois. It got 53 votes in the 118-member house, and 59 representatives voted against it.
Sponsor Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, told the Reader last spring that when he talked about the bill with other representatives,"92 of them have looked me in the eye and said, 'This is a great bill. I hope you pass it.' But only 52 have said they'll vote for it. They come up with all kinds of excuses."
Lang believed the lame duck session, when several members would be casting their last votes before leaving the house and everyone else would have just been reelected, was the best time to ask the legislators to vote their consciences. But it turned out that he picked up only one vote that he didn't have eight months ago.
The medical marijuana bill had passed the Illinois senate last May without a vote to spare, so house approval would have sent the measure to the governor. Lang's office says he plans to ask the house to reconsider the bill in early January, before the new General Assembly is sworn in. If he fails then the bill's dead, and champions of legalized medical marijuana will have to start rolling the rock back up the hill from the very bottom — something they've been at for years.
Here's the feature story on Lang's bill that Claire Thompson wrote for the Reader last April. At that time Lang didn't expect to call for a vote until January, because a supermajority would have been required earlier in the veto session. But he figured out a way around that, a spokesperson in his Springfield office tells me.