Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Set to Open Within Two Weeks

medical marijuana, pilot program, Illinois criminal defense attorneyAfter almost two years of bureaucratic delays, the wait for medical marijuana in Illinois may be coming to an end. According to regulatory officials, the first legal crop has been harvested, processed, and is ready to be tested. Growers and industry leaders expect that the state’s legal outlets for marijuana distribution, known as dispensaries, are expected to open their doors in the next two weeks, and qualified patients are optimistic that it will finally be happening.

Smaller-Scale Operation

When the medical marijuana pilot program gets off the ground, it will do so on a scale well below that of original estimates. So far, only six dispensaries have been granted license to begin operating in the state, far below the 60 companies which sought approval. The number of qualifying patients, as well, is much lower than initially anticipated. With expectations of around 100,000 registered medical marijuana patients, the actual number is currently at about 3,300. Efforts to expand the list of qualifying conditions have been blocked by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who has expressed reluctance to make any changes to the program before it actually gets started.

Not a Typical Store

Those with experience related to medical marijuana in other states have observed that the Illinois program is being handled in a much more professional and strict manner than in other jurisdictions. To gain access to a dispensary, a registered patient will be required to show his or her special, state-issued identification card. The state began sending out the cards to approved patients last week.

The stores themselves seem more like a doctor’s office waiting room than a retail establishment, as the state’s restrictions require all marijuana products to be maintained in sealed packages behind locked doors. Patients are not permitted to sample, touch, or even smell the products prior to purchase, and public use of marijuana is still prohibited. They must rely on pamphlets and other materials to make selections, and will probably require a degree of trial and error to find the strains and products that work best for their individual conditions.

Growth Expected

As the program gets going, there will only be two dispensaries ready to open in the Chicago area. The remaining four are all downstate. However, regulators expect that as many as 25 stores will be open by the end of the year, once the few remaining wrinkles have been ironed out. Depending upon the success of the program, the number of approved conditions, and therefore, approved patients may increase as well.

In the meantime, those who use the drug without a valid medical marijuana registration card may face criminal charges for drug possession. If you have been arrested, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney for assistance. We will review your case and help you take steps toward a favorable outcome that protects your rights and your future. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation today.



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