John Fritchey is a 54 year old Democratic member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, representing representing the 12th District since 2010, and a zoning attorney in Chicago. Fritchey was a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives elected at age 32 in 1996 serving the 11th District for 14 years until 2010.
Fritchey co-sponsored the bill that lead to the creation and implementation of the current Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in 2013. He also aided in the decriminalization of cannabis possession in the state. In November of 2017, Fritchey also publicly shared his estimate that legalizing recreational marijuana would bring in $500 million in tax revenue to the state. He teamed up with fellow Commissioner Luis Arroyo to propose a legalization referendum on the Cook County primary election ballots.
Yesterday, February 12th, 2018 Fritchey disclosed to local media outlet the Chicago Tribune that he himself is a card carrying Medical Marijuana patient in the State of Illinois. Fritchey stated that he has been using cannabis under a doctor’s recommendation. Despite being a vocal supporter of marijuana law reform in the past, cannabis law reform directly aligns with Fritchey’s progressive values. He has made it known through his career that he is a human rights advocate through his cases on paid sick leave, parental leave and more as well as being an animals rights activist.
John Fritchey received his medical cannabis card from the state in May 2017 and consumes concentrates only at night, but not every night and not when he’s interacting with the public. The Chicago Democrat said he had significant surgery in 2017 amid an unfounded cancer scare, as well as a hip replacement. But neither is the reason a doctor certified him to use marijuana, he said. Fritchey declined to say which of Illinois Marijuana Qualifying Conditions makes him eligible. “I hope everybody would understand people want to have a right to medical privacy,” he explained.
Fritchey first backed the legalization of medical marijuana as a state lawmaker in 2004, some nine years before Illinois’ law was approved. In 2011, he backed decriminalization in the city and came out in favor of legalization. Now, he’s the primary sponsor of a March 20 primary election referendum asking Cook County voters if they favor legalization of recreational use. It’s only advisory and would not have the force of law if approved.
Despite his doctor’s recommendation, even this lawmaker realizes that marijuana carries a stigma and in his statement to the press, Commissioner Fritchey acknowledged this unfair attitude towards people who use cannabis.
Fritchey was proud to be using his cannabis and said, “I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of if you say, ‘It’s been determined by a doctor that I have a qualifying condition and I am going to try this and, you know what, it works.'” He continued. “I think it would be hypocritical of me to try to mainstream not just medical cannabis, but not be willing to acknowledge I’m a patient.”
Medical care and treatment is a private matter. Especially when the treatment in question is still so controversial. Given this, it is particularly laudable for Commissioner Fritchey to publicly disclose his status as a medical marijuana patient.