IL: Crowd Turns Out For Medical Marijuana Dispensary Open House

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Visitors to The Clinic Effingham on Monday were inquisitive about how a medical cannabis dispensary would look and function – and found it to be a comfortable setting with a high-tech pharmacy feel.

Diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Lora Heiden of Louisville said she’s had ongoing pain for nine years.

“Just today, an Effingham doctor suggested I get the certification process started,” said Heiden.

She was one of a few who willingly talked about the possible benefits of using medical marijuana during the open house of The Clinic Effingham, one of the state’s dispensaries scheduled to open later this month.

Billy Tomasek, 42, of Louisville said the timing is right for such a clinic.

“I’m with the rest of the general public and I say it’s about time,” he said.

Tomasek said he’s applied for a card and has a qualifying condition that has been certified by his physician.

“Like many people, I have used other prescribed medications for years,” said Tomasek. “You can’t function as well, and there are more drawbacks to the prescription meds.”

Mayor Jeff Bloemker was among officials who welcomed The Clinic.

“As a society, we are far past due in terms of accepting the benefits and value of cannabis,” he said.

Karen Luchtefeld, a member of the Effingham County Board, told an estimated crowd of about 40 people she is pleased to know that people undergoing medical treatment for chemotherapy or those suffering from glaucoma now have a place to go without a lengthy drive.

Ross Morreale, director of Ataraxia, one of the business partners establishing the dispensary, told city leaders and other visitors that Effingham was chosen mostly because of the location and the proximity to the VA Clinic next door.

“There are lots of veterans here who are probably suffering from PTSD and other conditions that cannabis can help,” said Morreale. “We are excited about bringing some relief to patients who are forced to take opiates and other drugs that are destroying their bodies.”

“Effingham is the hub city for all the little towns that dot this area,” said Zachary Yborra, manager of The Clinic Effingham. “We’re right off the interstate and we have good visibility.”

Ataraxia is one of three companies working together to form the clinic. Also involved are Green Thumb Industries in Chicago and Nutritional High of Toronto.

Yborra fielded questions from the crowd during the open house. He explained after the necessary paperwork is filed and a medical cannabis card is issued, the patient has to specify a dispensary.

“Patients have to be registered at a specific dispensary,” said Yborra. “You can’t just shop here and go to another dispensary that same day.”

However, a registered user can switch, but it takes a process through the state.

And the dispensary will be a “cash only” business, with plans to establish an ATM inside the facility.

Yborra explained there are plenty of security measures in place, including 30 cameras inside and outside the facility, which the state of Illinois has access to as well.

There will be at least one security guard and at least four staff members at any given time. The law states that the product cannot be opened in the clinic or in a vehicle. It can only be used at home.

Registered patients may have up to 2 1/2 ounces of product every two weeks. It will be available in an eighth-ounce increments.

While there were no products on display for the open house, the medical cannabis could come in various forms, including flowers, oils, concentrates, topical ointments, edibles, suppositories and more.

The clinic will be working with eight different cultivators, which grows the flowers and also does the extractions. The cultivator centers also makes the gummies, capsules, cookies and brownies.

Terry Horstman with the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation said there is only one dispensary allowed in Illinois State Police District 12, which includes Clark, Clay, Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Lawrence, Marion and Richland counties.

Ben Kovler of Green Thumb Industries said in an email that The Clinic Effingham isn’t on the list of licensed dispensaries posted by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation because the state has not yet issued the clinic its operating license.

“Once they issue the licenses and we are registered, the space becomes restricted without public access,” wrote Kovler. “We are waiting until after the open house and a few tours.”

The clinic is expected to open in about two weeks, according to Yborra. The next closest dispensaries are in Champaign, Springfield and Marion.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Crowd Turns Out For Medical Marijuana Dispensary Open House
Author: Dawn Schabbing
Contact: (217) 347-7151
Photo Credit: Dawn Schabbing
Website: Effingham Daily News