By Bailey Deitz
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) – New numbers show more and more medical marijuana cards are being handed out in Illinois and sales are climbing. So far, that’s from at least one of several licensed businesses in our area.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has now approved 4,000 patients for the pilot program. That’s up 400 from a month ago. Sales started on November 9th, 2015 and patients have legally purchased nearly $1.7 million dollars worth of medical marijuana.
As far as where to buy it, Milan and Fulton have planned dispensaries which are in the building phase now. But before it hits places like that, it has to be grown. A cultivation center off Andalusia Road in Rock Island is well underway with that part of the program.
A representative of Green Thumb Industries, or GTI, says the Rock Island facility was among the first to ship out product to dispensaries around the state. It’s on the way to expanding from 25 employees to 40 if the program continues at this pace.
“Things are going great in Rock Island. We’ve been growing product since early July. We were the first cultivator to get the okay to begin growing medical cannabis in Illinois,” said Ben Kovler, Founder/CEO of GTI Clinic.
“I would say the program in its current form is a success for what it is. It is not as large or robust as anybody predicted. what we need are new conditions and more patients,” he added.
Construction is underway in Fulton at The Dispensary. The general manager there says there have been a few building delays and, at this point, there’s no timeline for opening up. On a weekly basis dispensary reps have been meeting with prospective customers to help answer questions and fill out applications for medical marijuana cards. They’ve done this for about 80 people in the Fulton area so far. Even when the dispensary opens for business, some people say the road block they’re running into is doctors apparently not giving them a referral.
Illinois is among 23 states to allow at least use of medical marijuana.