Despite medical marijuana being legal in the state of Illinois since Jan. 1, 2014, there haven’t been any dispensaries open to sell the product. That will all change within the next few weeks when the state’s pilot medical marijuana program finally goes into effect.
Right now, 39 diseases and conditions are eligible under the program to receive medical cannabis once the dispensaries start operation. Ataraxia in Albion, Ill. is the first dispensary center to start the whole process after passing the state’s rigorous set of requirements.
While the city of Albion is more than encouraging Ataraxia for what it is doing, there are still doubters across the state that feel like medical cannabis might not be the answer.
Illinois Cannabis Educational Campaign
Cresco, a medical cannabis business that plans to have three cultivation centers, launched a $1 million educational campaign to better inform the residents of Illinois about the benefits, wonders and necessities of medical cannabis and, in doing so, ensure the program thrives. There’s an issue they run into almost immediately. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, they can only market to doctors and dispensaries, not “through any public medium…designed to market their products to the public.”
How they’re getting around it, though, is by stating the education campaign is for the medical cannabis program as a whole, not their specific products. Slogans such as “Welcome to a state of relief. Medical cannabis. Now growing in Illinois” alongside photos of healthy activities such as exercising, hopefully will convince some skeptics that its implementation will truly benefit the state, not harm it in any way.
While over 25,000 people have started the application process, only about 4,000 have actually completed and submitted it fully. Of the almost 4,000 people, 3,100 have been approved so far. If Cresco’s campaign works how they are hoping it does, those numbers are sure to skyrocket and just might approach the state’s estimate of around 100,000 people applying for medical cannabis licenses by the end of the year.
The pilot program is only scheduled to last for four years and with nearly two of those years already wasted due to non-existent dispensaries, Cresco and the other medical cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries will hope interest skyrockets before April 2018 and the pilot program can turn into a full-time one.
How to Get a Medical Cannabis Card in Illinois
For a full description of the process and steps to get a medical cannabis card in Illinois, click here.