A research firm says Illinois’ medical cannabis pilot program has been plagued with setbacks, a lack of licensed growers and slow patient registration, all of which Arcview Market Research says jeopardizes dispensary businesses.

Just last week the Illinois Department of Public Health denied adding 8 additional conditions to the program.

Governor Bruce Rauner said the state is “assessing the performance of it so far and we’ll make that judgement in the future.”

“I don’t want to rush this,” Rauner said. “We’re making a lot of changes. We’ve got to walk before we run.”

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However, Chris Stone, CEO of medical cannabis dispensary HCI Alternatives in Springfield and Collinsville, said the state should be helping educate, especially doctors.

“Listen, doctors go through many years of education and it’s not in any textbook,” Stone said. “It doesn’t tell you anything about marijuana or cannabis or any of the various strains and how they affect pain management.”

“I think getting the education out and having the state help us with the education is instrumental in making this program a success,” Stone said.

Arcview Market Research’s 4th edition of The State of Legal Marijuana Markets report says Illinois’ pilot program “has been plagued with setbacks, including a lack of licensed growers and extremely slow patient registrations.”

“By January 2016,” the report says, “the state had approved only 4,000 medical cannabis patients, far fewer than dispensary owners will need to keep their businesses viable.”

IDPH said this week the number of approved patients is up around 4,400.

“Furthermore,” the Arcview report says, “the Governor’s refusal to expand the list of qualifying conditions will keep patient participation low for the foreseeable future.”

Arcview notes Illinois’ pilot program is set to sunset at the end of 2017 but Stone predicts the program will be successful and be extended.

Stone also says his Springfield dispensary could be the largest dispensary in the state, at 9,000 sq. ft., something he hopes will make HCI Alternatives ready for if the state legalizes cannabis for recreational use.


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