IL: Medical Cannabis Dispensed In Fulton


Fulton, Ill. – Since The Dispensary and Star Flower Clinic have opened, they have had a good weekly flow of people in their businesses.

Star Flower Clinic, located at 1008 Fourth St., began seeing patients at the end of March. Things started slow but for the last three months, business has gotten really busy, Star Flower Clinic Dr. Ramon Pla said. They are seeing on average 20 to 25 patients a week now and are only there half a day on Mondays and Saturdays.

Fibromyalgia is the most common diagnosis that brings people in to be certified to use medical cannabis; the second is cancer, Pla said.

The other diagnosis that has brought in a lot people is post-traumatic stress disorder. They have been seeing a lot of war veterans, a lot of young people in their late 20s and early 30s with really tough issues that have occurred in Afghanistan or Iraq. They are also seeing a lot of people who have been in abusive relationships that have created PTSD, Pla explained.

“I am really amazed that people with cancer are looking at this as an option,” Pla said. “Not so much to replace the treatment, but to enhance it or feel better from pain or nausea.”

The state of Illinois has made it easier for doctors to get involved. It clearly states that medical cannabis physicians are not prescribing cannabis but are certifying patients to get it, Pla explained. There have been patients coming into his clinic who have doctors who refuse to sign the form.

“There’s a lot of corporate medicine that are just not allowing their doctors to sign off on this,” Pla said. “Which is hard, because this is a program being offered in the state of Illinois, these are residents who live in Illinois and have conditions that meet the state’s medical cannabis standards. So I just don’t understand why more doctors won’t come out and participate in this.”

The state at the end of July increased medical cannabis application fees from $100 to $300 to be certified for three years instead of one year. But patients have the choice to choose to be certified for one to three years to make it more affordable for themselves.

Pla has no relationship with the dispensaries themselves. He knows they exist and knows there is one in town operating, but they operate independently of one another. It’s a conflict of interest for Pla to recommend a dispensary to go to and vice versa for them to recommend a doctor to go to.

The Fulton Dispensary has been open since July 1, and had an open house in May since that was the last day the general public was able to walk through.

The Dispensary supplies to people in Illinois State Police District 1, so they’re local for the most part but there have been four or five people from Chicago or St. Louis, The Dispensary’s general manager, Jeff Soenksen, said.

They started off with close to 30 patients and now they are up to about 110, he said.

Soenksen previously ran a cultivation center for a company called Breckenridge Cannabis Club, when he was in Breckenridge, Colorado. He was there when recreational marijuana use just became legal. It was very fast paced and they would see over 100 clients a day, he explained.

He said The Dispensary is pretty steady during the week and gaining new customers on a weekly basis.

There are 42 diagnoses patients can have to be certified to use medical cannabis, Soenksen explained. With his patients it has been pretty well rounded on conditions coming in, although patients don’t have to disclose their conditions to them.

It’s not about the condition though, it’s more about the symptoms the patients are trying to get rid of, he said. There may be four or five different diseases that all have the same symptoms that they’re looking to treat. It’s big for pain treatment, he said. They have seen people completely cut out prescription opioids from their life since starting medical cannabis.

“In my opinion if everyone got on board with medical cannabis through out the USA it would help the drug problems a lot,” Soenksen said. “The places where medical cannabis or recreational marijuana is being sold at has had prescription drug use go down already.”

There are less side effects and a less percentage of addiction, he said. The side effects are minor, he said. The main ones are dry mouth, fatigue or red eyes.

Opioids have a high addiction rate and they’re something you can’t just quit cold turkey once your body has been on them for awhile, Soenksen said. Cannabis can be a great substitute. The CDC says cannabis is just about as addictive as caffeine, which is about a 9 percent addiction rate and you also can’t overdose on cannabis. To date no one has over dosed on cannabis, so it is also a safe alternative, he said.

Mostly everyone has been very receptive and positive in the Fulton community and surrounding areas. They have held a few educational seminars and have been to City Council meetings for people to voice concerns and so they could educate people on misconceptions. He said so far there hasn’t been anyone negatively speaking about The Dispensary that he knows of.

“It’s a beautiful development,” Fulton City Administrator Ed Cannon said. “We wish them luck with getting more tenants in.”

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Medical Cannabis Dispensed In Fulton
Author: Alexzandria Bryson
Contact: (563) 242-7101
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: Clinton Herald