Marijuana becomes legal in Illinois and one vet couldn't be - – Rockford’s News Leader

Marijuana becomes legal in Illinois and one vet couldn't be happier

Jim Champion, US Army vet and MS patient. Jim Champion, US Army vet and MS patient.
Jessica, stage 4 cancer patient. Jessica, stage 4 cancer patient.

It will soon be ok to smoke pot in Illinois as long as you have a prescription.  Governor Pat Quinn signed a law that makes medical marijuana legal. Patients have to be seriously sick to get the drug.

As of January 1st, Illinois will be one of 20 states to allow the use of medical marijuana but the state may also have some of the toughest standards.

"Lord knows I've tried just about just about every treatment I could to relieve pain for my multiple sclerosis," says Jim Champion.

The US Army veteran is also a medical marijuana advocate. At one time he took 60 pills a day including morphine and valium to stop his pain. Jim has pushed lawmakers to allow pot use in Illinois for years.  He isn't alone. Just a few months ago we introduced you to Jessica, a Winnebago County woman battling stage four cancer. 

"They took out six inches of my colon,some of my liver a little bit of my liver a third of my pancreas and my entire gallbladder," says Jessica.

The legislators behind the new law only let patients with diseases like MS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, lupus and other serious illnesses access to marijuana.

"We made this the most highly controlled and regulated bill in the country ever written," says Representative Lou Lang.

Patients who qualify will get marijuana from one of up to 60 dispensaries in the state. The marijuana would come from cultivation centers. People like Jessica and Jim say they are celebrating that they will no longer have to live in the shadows because of their illness.

"I've always been ashamed I've been criminalized for the actions I've been forced to take for my pain relief," says Jim Champion.

The measure puts into place a  four year pilot program.  Patients and their caregivers have to pass background checks. The law allows people up to 2.5 ounces of pot at a time.

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