The people who sell medical marijuana in Illinois have said they're pleased with new numbers that show steady growth in Illinois' medical pot program. And they're very pleased with a plan to expand it.
Joe Wright, executive director of Illinois' Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, said dispensaries sold $2.3 million in medical marijuana in May. That's up from $2.2 million in April.
Wright said while the focus is on dollars, he prefers to look at patient growth. “The program's point is to help people who are in pain,” Wright said.
More people in pain could soon access additional help.
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Illinois lawmakers last week extended the pilot program for two and a half years and added post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses as conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.
“I think the addition of PTSD is huge,” Amy Manganelli, owner of Mapleglen Care Center in Rockford, said. Manganelli said thousands of veterans in Illinois could be helped.
But the biggest change could be a tweak in how doctors operate in the program.
“I had heard from some doctors that they felt uncomfortable ... having to say 'I am recommending this' as opposed to purely certifying,” Wright said.
The proposal now headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk would allow doctors to simply confirm that they have a relationship with a patient, and that their patient has a qualifying illness.
“The change to the doctor certification/recommendation process is a significant change,” said Mitch Kahn, co-owner of the Greenhouse Group, which operates three dispensaries in Illinois. “I think it will dramatically change the dialogue between patients and doctors.”
Approximately 7,000 patients are enrolled in Illinois' medical marijuana program.
Wright said there isn't a timeline for the changes yet. Rauner has yet to sign the legislation.