Progress Report: One Year With Medical Marijuana in Illinois


Starting next week, the state of Illinois will reach its one year anniversary since legalizing medical marijuana. The Department of Public Health says they are seeing more patients apply than ever before, due to more conditions allowing people to use. 

Five years ago Jon Gilson suffered from a traumatic brain injury during a car crash when he was 18 years old. 

Gilson was confided to his home and couldn’t do much to treat his pain. “There’s so many pills. There’s different kinds of pills and this pill helps this, but it might give you … side effects, and this pill helps that, but it might give you the side effect,” he says. 

At one point, Gilson was prescribed over 300 opioids a month. Once Gilson heard about the availability of medical marijuana, he jumped on the opportunity to try something else for the pain.

It was a complete transformation. 

“[It] made me laugh, which was great,” he says. “Laughter is better for my life [since] I’m in the situation that I am.” 

Over the past year, medical marijuana has given patients in Illinois, like Gilson, relief. 

Today there are over 12,000 patients prescribed a medical card to obtain the medication, and 40 potential conditions can qualify a person to use the drug. 

“I think, for the industry overall, it be helpful if you have more patients. You to have more revenue,” Gilson says.

Since dispensaries opened their doors, they’ve brought in more than $26 million dollars. 

“Local businesses, like dispensaries, it’s good for the state, because the state kind of needs some money,” Gilson continues. 

Gilson’s dad says it’s amazing what medical cannabis has done for his son.  

“[He] doesn’t have as near as many muscle spasms as we used to have. [He’s a] little bit more calm and relaxed [and in] less pain. He doesn’t complain as much.” 

Gilson says he’s happy with the progress of the medical marijuana program so far, but says it will only continue to changes thousands of lives. 

“You had to drag me out of the house before, but now if you asked me [if] I want to go somewhere, ‘yes,’ I say. I might as well,” Gilson says.

Marijuana dispensary owners say that more education about medical cannabis has also helped sales. There are currently 46 dispensaries in Ilinois.

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