Press Release


The Public Square at the IHC presents the Chicago premiere of this new documentary at Film Row Cinema, followed by a panel discussion.

CHICAGO – The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council and the Columbia College Television Department present the Chicago premiere of the new documentary Waiting to Inhale on Thursday, September 20th at 6:30 p.m. at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema (1104 South Wabash, 8th Floor, Chicago). After the film, there will be a panel discussion with the filmmaker.

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended and can be made by e-mailing or by calling 312.422.5580.

Waiting to Inhale examines the heated debate over marijuana and its use as medicine in the United States. The filmtakes viewers inside the lives of patients who have been forever changed by illness and parents who lost their children to addiction.

Followingthe film, there will be a discussion on medical marijuana and drug policy reform. Jed Riffe, director and producer of Waiting to Inhale Melanie Dreher, Dean of the College of Nursing at Rush University; and James Gierach , a former Cook County prosecutor, local advocate for drug policy reform, and featured speaker with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, will appear on the panel. Noted documentarian Gordon Quinn, president and founder of Kartemquin Films, will moderate the discussion.


Jed Riffe is an award-winning independent filmmaker, broadcast journalist, and digital media producer. He is the senior producer for Jed Riffe Films, LLC. Over the last 25 years, Riffe has produced numerous highly-acclaimed documentary and dramatic films and interactive projects domestically and internationally.

Melanie C. Dreher, PhD, RN, FAAN is the Dean of the College of Nursing of Rush University. Dreher is a nationally recognized leader in nursing education and has led a distinguished career as a researcher on the health and welfare of underserved communities and the influence of culture in patient-provider communication.

James Gierach is a practicing attorney and former Cook County prosecutor who has experienced the effect of the war on drugs from both sides of the legal system. Referred to as "Illinois’ preeminent conscientious objector" to the war on drugs, Gierach has spent the last dozen years fighting drug prohibition as a candidate for Cook County State’s Attorney and Illinois governor in primary elections and as a featured speaker with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Gordon Quinn is president of Kartemquin Educational Films. During his 35-year career, he has produced an impressive list of documentaries, including the critically-acclaimed Hoop Dreams.


The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council fosters debate, dialogue, and exchange of ideas about cultural, social and political issues with an emphasis on social justice. Programs promote participatory democracy by creating space for public conversations.

This program is part of The Public Square’s “Civic Cinema” project. An exhilarating series of films, forums, and conversations, “Civic Cinema” uses the most exceptionally creative and engaging documentary films of our times to help communities talk about most pressing social issues. More information about The Public Square at the IHC is available at

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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