Medical marijuana dispensaries opened their doors in Illinois for the first time in state history this week. The eight clinics served hundreds of patients across the state most waiting for hours to get inside.
From Mundelein, a reporter chirped that it was so busy that the Mundelein clinic actually sold out their products in one day. The place was supposed to close at 6.00pm but they remained open until every last patient was served. It serviced over 200 cardholders.
Patients like Laura Bailey who had been suffering from pain, spams and insomnia for the past 15 years and had been living on prescription pills could barely wait for the clinics to open. Monday she and patients like her flocked to one of the eight clinics in various parts of the state and walked out with the ‘miracle plant’ with veins like blue cheese. After smoking it, Laura said that the tingling in her hands disappeared.
On day one, the clinic in Addison served 200 patients and only turned away a few. Some, like Bill Franks came from more than 100 miles away to get his portion. He found the product -average price $110 for quarter of an ounce – cheaper than expected.
At the moment, dispensaries are limited in products. Most still have the dried flower type and hope to expand to oils in the next couple of weeks. Addison’s EarthMed clinic has 11 different strains with names such as Grape God Bud and Chemdawg. In the future, growers say they will produce a wide variety of edibles, including chocolates, brownies and gummy bears, as well as oils, extracts, lotions and possibly patches. For the meantime, the state allows patients to buy up to 21/2 ounces every two weeks, which is like ten cigarette-sized joints a day. Many patients said it was more than they needed.
Supporters or medical marijuana say that the state has put together requirements so restrictive that it is making it tough on the people who buy and the people who sell the therapeutic cannabis. Dispensaries have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools and day care centers. Many are in industrial parks to keep them hidden.
Clients, most importantly, have to have one or more of 39 diseases and conditions which include AIDS, epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Patients too must obtain a state ID card with proof from their doctor that they have one of the qualifying diseases or conditions. They also have to submit fingerprints and get criminal background checks. As of Monday, only about 3,300 people in Illinois had managed to obtain the cards.
Discussion for the program started more than a decade ago when proponents first began pushing legislation in Springfield. After many defeats, pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, making Illinois the 21st state allowing marijuana for medical use. The four-year pilot program will run to the end of 2017.
Up to date, the eight dispensaries together made nearly 11 million dollars in sales for the state. Officials said that they expect to have up to 25 dispensaries opened by the end of this year.