Illinois medical marijuana dispensaries begin sales
CHICAGO (KFVS/AP) - Medical marijuana sales have begun in Illinois with patients flocking to state-licensed retail shops in five cities.
Among the first buyers Monday was Maggie Chatterton, a 25-year-old homemaker in central Illinois. She drove 20 miles to the Salveo Health & Wellness dispensary in Canton where doors opened around 9:30 a.m.
She says $385 an ounce is a fair price for a drug that she hopes will help her manage pain from a spine condition. She's telling her 4-year-old son that marijuana is a natural medicine.
Five dispensaries plan to sell marijuana on Monday. The others are in Addison, Marion, Mundelein and Quincy.
Harbory Dispensary in Marion, Illinois had its grand opening at 1 p.m. and it was packed. Harbory was the first dispensary in the state to get its license.
Many people lined up at the southern Illinois dispensary hours before it opened.
Kevin Sauls from Ridgway, Illinois got there at 5 a.m. on Monday and was the first in line at Harbory.
"I just wanted to be first, the first to make history. And be the first in southern Illinois to make history like this," Sauls said.
Sauls said he suffers from chronic back pain and while it took him a year and a half to complete all the paperwork, he said it's been worth it.
"It's been a lot of paperwork and a long ordeal as far as that goes. And actually I never thought I'd see it happen and can't believe that it is happening. It just kind of amazing that it is happening," Sauls said. "And me to be the first in there,it was really surprised, you know out of everyone out of everyone, because there are so many people that need the help."
For California native, Mark Schrull, he moved to southern Illinois about five years ago. He said he recently got a pain pump for his arthritis that he's had since he was 17. He said with this dispensary, it will help.
"It will and has cut down on a lot of the medication. It has made a tremendous difference in my life. And I'm very happy that a lot of people here in the state of Illinois are able to do this," Schrull said. "I think it'll make quite a significant difference but it will take time."
Doug Mars, director of Harbory said it's been a momentous day.
"It's been a couple years waiting since the pilot program was put into place and we're very excited to have the opportunity to serve our patients here in southern Illinois," Mars said.
He said it's been a very intensive process to get the dispensary approved in Marion.
"Once the application was in, we actually went through the inspection in the state," Mars said. "We've been waiting now a couple weeks for cultivators to come online and us to come online with the state systems and now we're ready to go."
Mars said in order to get into Harbory dispensary, patients must have their state issued medical marijuana card.
"Once they do get their card, that's step one. Step two is they have to check us as their dispensary. So those two check marks are in place, they can come on inside and then we can start treating them as patients," Mars said.
Dr. Michele Koo, an M.D. from St. Louis is the owner of Harbory.
Approximately 3,300 patients with Illinois-issued ID cards will be able to purchase medical cannabis.
Illinois is among 23 states with medical marijuana programs.