Mundelein marijuana clinic patients hopeful pot will help

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Monday’s opening of The Clinic Mundelein began an early day for David Fry and his wife, Angela, who drove north from Dixon.

“We left this morning about 5:15 or 5:30 (a.m.) but we got lost a couple of times,” David Fry said. The 40-year-old former construction supervisor fell 12 feet off a ladder seven years ago and broke his back and neck. He said he’s got rods and pins in his back and takes medication for pain and anxiety.

“They give me high-powered medication to get through the day and to sleep. It works, but the side effects aren’t the greatest. I was looking for alternatives,” he said.

Angela Fry said her husband wanted to get off the pills so he went to the medical marijuana doctor.

“We never thought this day would be here,” she said.

About 9:30 a.m., the couple was among a small group that arrived early for the clinic’s noon opening. David Fry was fourth on the list.

Matt Estep, president of GTI (Green Thumb Industries) of Chicago, which holds the dispensing license for Mundelein, said he expected “several hundred” people to eventually arrive. There are 3,300 individuals in Illinois registered to receive the medical marijuana and the Mundelein location has the most, although Estep declined to give a specific number. GTI also holds cultivation licenses in Rock Island and Oglesby.

For opening day, the clinic is offering six varieties of marijuana of varying strengths, with names such as Grape God Bud, Blue Cheese and G6, but operators expect to have 20 or more soon. Patients are allowed a maximum of 2.5 ounces every two weeks, but supplies were limited Monday in Mundelein.

“We’re self-imposing a limit jut to help as many people as we can,” Estep said.

On Monday patients could receive a maximum of a quarter ounce of one type or eighth ounces of two types. The cost is $110 for a quarter ounce, cash only, patients said.

Ron Lindstaedt, 58, of Island Lake arrived at 5 a.m. and would be the first to get inside. Was anyone else around?

“Yeah, the TV crews,” he said.

Lindstaedt said he has had many surgeries and has pumps in his body to distribute pain medication. He said he takes “a lot of medicine” to deal with several ailments that surfaced 16 years ago and have intensified.

“My condition is very bad. I’m on a ventilator at night. It’s like somebody beating you up every day,” Lindstaedt said. He said he knows the medical marijuana won’t solve the problems but hopes it will help.

Only patients or caregivers were allowed inside the Mundelein clinic and the selection process was tightly controlled. There is browsing but no touching.

“It’s like going into a jewelry store with glass counters,” explained Kim Bitters, 50, of Beecher. “When I first registered, I thought it would be like going into a candy story. I thought you’d be able to touch it and smell it.”

Bitters, who was the second patient to arrive, said she suffers from severe arthritis and fibromyalgia and wanted to get off the medications she currently takes.

“I expected to wait in line and wait a long time and it would increase my pain level,” said Bitters, who views this as an opportunity.

“Making history,” she said of the clinic opening. “Hopefully, it will be life changing. I’m praying.”