Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), pictured in this April file photo, said he didn't "feel strongly" about casting one of three Republican votes for medicinal marijuana legislation Friday but said he might support broader legalization of the drug. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
SPRINGFIELD-State Sen. James Oberweis was one of three Senate Republicans who voted Friday to legalize the use of marijuana by severely ill Illinoisans.
But the Sugar Grove Republican and self-described "semi-Libertarian" isn't sure he'd stop with just that.
"I'm inclined, wherever possible, to let people make decisions on their own," Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I might even support legalization of marijuana, period, and tax the heck out of it.
"To me, " he continued, "there's not a great deal of difference between marijuana and alcohol."
In boldly opening the door to the broad legalization of pot in Illinois, the former candidate for U.S. Senate, Congress and governor said he had never tried pot or any other illegal narcotic nor does he have any sick family member who would benefit from marijuana.
During floor debate and even after casting a vote in support of the legislation, Oberweis said he was undecided about the bill or its potential impact but added support for the bill by his daughter and her husband, both Southern Illinois University Edwardsville criminal justice professors, had "a little impact on me."
Oberweis also insisted he was not fearful of any political backlash from conservatives for his vote.
"Look, if people are going to be mad at me for a vote on that bill, so be it. I didn't feel strongly," he said. "I don't think there's a significant amount of harm that will come to the state because of it. I'm not sure there's all that much good will result either. It was difficult decision to make. But I made the best decision I could."