Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana during a bustling news conference full of pomp and circumstance at the University of Chicago on Thursday.
Some, like Pamela Jones, a nurse who hung out in the back, watched the ceremony with a sense of seriousness though.
She said she recently lost her father to liver cancer and medicinal marijuana could have made him more comfortable while he was getting treatment.
“I think if this bill would have been in effect, maybe he would have been spared, he would’ve had a little bit of longevity in his life and possibly would’ve been able to live a more fulfilled life towards the end stages of his life,” Jones said.
State Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, said medicinal marijuana will serve as a better alternative to pain relievers like morphine or Vicodin. He said those prescriptions have harmful effects.
“Those medications, which were designed to help them feel better actually ruined their lives,” Lang said.
The law allows doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer, glaucoma, Rheumatoid arthritis and a series of other illnesses.
Supporters say Illinois’ law is strictly regulated to prevent those who just want pot for recreational use to get it from a medical dispensary.
The bill goes into effect next year, but it could be months after that before grow houses are set up and producing marijuana.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.