By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The state Senate today is expected to take what could be a historic vote on a bill to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

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Setting up a full Senate vote, the Appropriations Committee Tuesday cleared the medical marijuana bill, but not before several senators, including Republican Pat Vance, tried unsuccessfully to gut the measure and opt instead for a limited research program proposed by the governor.

“I don’t understand why we’re taking a chance about what might happen in the future when right now we have tests that can be done scientifically,” said Vance. “If it works, I’m all for it.”

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But Allegheny County Democrat Jay Costa, the Senate majority leader, said people who might be helped by medical cannabis can’t wait.

“I think it’s appropriate now for us to move this process forward and support legislation that allows these folks to have hope,” he said.

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Even if the medical marijuana bill passes the Senate, it would still need House approval with only a handful of days left in the current legislative session.

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