Mundelein lands all 3 medical marijuana dispensaries in Lake County

ChicagoTribune

Mundelein attracted all three businesses that were given licenses to sell medical marijuana in Lake County.

That will not be the final outcome, however, because state officials want the dispensaries to be geographically spread out, which means the second- and third-ranked companies are now looking for new homes.

Mundelein Village Administrator John Lobaito confirmed that GTI Clinic Illinois Holdings — which received the highest score from state officials — was approved for 1325 Armour Boulevard.

Both Northshore Alternative Therapy and PDI Medical III, according to Lobaito, were approved for 1333 Wilhelm Road.

The two buildings are approximately 400 feet from each other, and Lobaito said Mundelein’s local ordinance on medical marijuana requires dispensaries to be 1,000 feet apart.

That same local ordinance is part of what attracted the companies. Village trustees in July voted 5-1 to make medical marijuana dispensaries a “permitted use,” which means government officials do not need to review a prospective company in extreme detail, and those companies can open as soon as their paperwork and regular building inspections are complete.

“A CVS probably has more potent and chemically active drugs, but the view of the public is different when it comes to marijuana,” Trustee Ed Sullivan said before approving the ordinance in July. “I do agree, there should not be unnecessary regulation.”

“With this announcement, GTI is ready to begin work to bring jobs and economic benefit to Rock Island, Dixon, Oglesby and Lake County, and communities throughout each region,” the company said in a written statement immediately after Gov. Bruce Rauner awarded GTI three licenses for cultivation centers and one license for a dispensary.

“GTI’s single focus, throughout this process, has been ensuring Illinois patients have access to the care they need,” the statement continued. A spokesman for GTI declined any further comment.

A publicly disseminated description of the company says its executives are entrepreneurs with proven business backgrounds in Chicago, but have created a partnership with The Clinic Colorado, which is a Colorado-based company that both grows and sells medical marijuana.

GTI, according to its the description, has also helped an Illinois-based children’s advocacy group to fundraise more than $5 million throughout the last five years, which reportedly benefited 850,000 kids.

The company works with groups that address homelessness as well.

As for PDI Medical, which stands for Professional Dispensaries of Illinois, co-investor Joseph Friedman said Illinois officials have told him to look elsewhere because they prefer the dispensaries be spread throughout the county.

Terry Horstman, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Profession Regulation, confirmed Friedman’s statement, saying both PDI and Northshore Alternative Therapy need to leave Mundelein and geographically spread out.

“It’s a little unsettling, but we’re willing to do it again and do it better,” Friedman said, explaining that he was ready to evaluate other locations and design another facility. “This is a great opportunity. I’m very proud of this and I can’t wait to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

PDI will most likely look for a location in southern Lake County near another company that is owned by its investors, Friedman said.

“We’re looking for a place where the municipality won’t elongate the process, because we don’t have a lot of time,” Friedman said. “Parts of Northbrook are considered Lake County. We also have good relationships in Highland Park and Deerfield. We’re not ruling anyone out, though.”

Friedman is a pharmacist with along his partner, Mark Mandel, at Roselle-based Mark Drugs, which opened in 1990 in a small 400-square-foot building.

A short time later, the staff began to explore “compounding,” which is when a drug is recreated to help patients with unique situations.

Pharmaceutical journals say compounding often removes inactive ingredients that a person might be allergic to so a drug’s main ingredient can still be used. The process can also make a drug easier to consume.

Anti-aging medicine and hormone treatments are among the most requested compounded drugs that Mark Drugs makes.

Mandel and Friedman have both been very vocal about pharmacists needing to be involved in medical marijuana so patients can be informed about how other medicines could react with a marijuana treatment.

Friedman said he’s done extensive research over the last few months on the enzymes that break down marijuana. He said seven to 10 other prescription drugs use those same enzymes, and unknowingly mixing them could delay or speed up the absorption.

PDI also applied for dispensaries in Schaumburg and Roselle, but far more companies applied in those areas and the margin for error was much smaller.

Company officials from Northshore Alternative Therapy were unavailable for comment.

rkambic@pioneerlocal.com

@Rick_Kambic

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