MUNDELEIN – An excited crowd gathered outside Lake County’s first state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary, The Clinic Mundelein, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 17. The facility could begin selling its products by Halloween.
“We look forward to being good neighbors and showing our commitment to the community by offering a very safe and secure facility here,” said Ben Kovler, co-founder of Green Thumb Industries (GTI), which owns The Clinic Mundelein.
“Today is really all about the patients. They are the winners today as the medical cannabis program is on the verge of its next chapter. We are excited to serve the patients of Lake County, Cook County and beyond,” Kovler said.
The $1 million dispensary, located in an industrial area at 1325 Armour Boulevard, off Townline Road, will begin selling medical marijuana as soon as product becomes available from growers in late October or early November.
The Clinic Mundelein will predominately be supplied with product by GTO-owned cultivation centers in Rock Island and Oglesby. The dispensary will offer different strains of medical marijuana dependant on what growers have available and as a result of talking with patients about their preferences.
“We can make our best guess as to what products to stock right now, but right away we’re going to be adapting that,” GTI Co-Founder Dina Rollman said.
From the application and permitting process to building the clinic, support from the village of Mundelein has been tremendous, she said.
“It’s part of the reason we picked this location,” Rollman added. “You don’t want to go into a community where you’re not wanted. They’ve done everything they can to make this a good process for us.”
“GTI is a valued member of the Mundelein community, and over the past several months we have worked hand-in-hand with the team to ensure the operation’s success,” Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz said in a press release.
Kovler vowed The Clinic Mundelein will be a positive business partner with the village and provide a valuable service to patients approved by the state to purchase medical marijuana.
The state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Under the Illinois law, a doctor can give a potential medical marijuana patient a recommendation, not a prescription. The state’s qualifying list of conditions includes AIDS/HIV, cancer, Crohn’s Disease, severe fibromyalgia, MS, glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord disease and more.
With a doctor’s recommendation, a patient can begin the state’s application process to obtain a medical marijuana card. With that card, the patient or caregiver can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks through a state-licensed dispensary like The Clinic Mundelein.
“This is a safe, professional place to buy medicine and seek advice,” Kovler said. “We’re also here to show all the people in Illinois who are unaware of this program that this is real. Medical marijuana is legal and is about to be available in Illinois. The patients have waited a long time and the wait is almost over.”
“If you’re a registered patient, come by, see the store, talk to our patient care specialists and learn more about the program,” said Kovler, noting The Clinic Mundelein can serve any patient in Illinois.
Upon entering the dispensary, patients will check-in at the front lobby with their ID and state-licensed medical marijuana card, which will be verified electronically. A security guard will be on-site at all times. The building features numerous security measures from cameras and alarms to motion detectors and keycards for employee access only.
Patients will be seated in a waiting area before being escorted to speak with a patient care specialist about what strain of cannabis to try and how to use it.
“This is happening,” Kovler said. “This program is alive and well. We can’t wait to tell positive patient stories.”
Given the state has only approved about 3,000 patients for medical marijuana, Rollman acknowledged it’s going to be slow-going at The Clinic Mundelein in terms of customer traffic, at least for the first year or so.
“This is a brand-new industry for Illinois. Everything takes time. It would be great to open our doors to 10,000 patients, but we’re confident that once people see this is a reality, in a year from now we’ll be in a much better position,” Rollman said.
“It’s going to be a slow ramp-up. The entire industry is concerned about the low patient count,” said Joseph Friedman, founder and CEO of PDI Medical, another Lake County dispensary that is preparing to open in Buffalo Grove pending the approval of remaining building permits.
“All the wheels are in motion,” Friedman said, noting PDI could open in late October or early November.
A third dispensary, Elevele (formerly called North Shore Alternative Therapy) is looking to open in Highland Park. There is no word on an opening date, as the approval process is ongoing.