Medical cannabis dispensaries to open in Chicago



By Abby Lee Hood

Patients may soon be getting medical cannabis prescriptions filled in Wicker Park, Mayfair and Pullman if three Illinois Grown Medicine dispensaries are permitted to open in those neighborhoods. 

Illinois Grown Medicine, a Chicago-based medical cannabis company, is in the process of opening dispensaries at 4739 W. Montrose Ave., 1300–1308 W. North Ave. and 11040 S. Langley Ave.

Les Hollis, CEO of IGM, started the company a year ago and said he aims to open the dispensaries before the end of 2015.

“My best guess is in the end of 2015, give or take a few months, is when actual dispensaries will be open and will have medicine to be sold,” Hollis said. “There’s a number of steps that we have already gone through, but going forward, we have some zoning work to do.”

Hollis said most of the work needed to open the dispensaries has been completed, but IGM is waiting for the state to finish reviewing applications for dispensary licenses. He said his company will help terminally ill patients. 

As new dispensaries open, advocacy groups are providing services designed to help patients with their paperwork and to encourage more physicians to write medical cannabis prescriptions. 

Tammy Jacobi, CEO of Good Intentions and a former registered nurse, also started her company a year ago. Good Intentions works with physicians to secure prescriptions so medical cannabis dispensaries have patients to serve, Jacobi said. She also said that IGM is targeting communities with citizens that may be potential candidates for prescriptions.

“The senior community takes a lot of pain medication,” Jacobi said. “I worked in patients’ homes setting up pill boxes, so I know what it’s like to dole out 40 Vicodin in a week’s dose.”

Jacobi said medical cannabis can help eliminate other medications from patients’ lives and get them into a physician’s office when they might not normally visit.

The targeted patient groups for IGM will mainly be African American and senior citizen communities because these demographics are more affected than others by chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, said Desiree Tate, an IGM consultant.

However, chronic pain cannot be treated with medical cannabis because of Illinois laws, Tate said.

“Believe it or not, pain is not on the list of conditions that Illinois has approved, but we do believe that the list will continue to grow,” Tate said.

Jacobi said not listing chronic pain excludes patients who have undergone invasive surgery such as knee or hip replacements.

The Illinois Department of Public Health lists 37 medical conditions that can legally be treated with medical cannabis on its website. The lists includes epilepsy, glaucoma and Crohn’s disease.

According to Jacobi, medical cannabis can be prescribed in different forms, including cannabis-infused products, which are food items. It can also be prescribed as a lotion, cream or in a smokable form.

Jacobi said that in Illinois, CIPs cannot be a product that requires heating or refrigeration, so dispensaries can use products such as lollipops or brownies. IGM is in a partnership with California-based dispensary Harborside Health Center, and Hollis said his company has applied for three of the 60 permits the state is granting. 

The application process has multiple steps. After being awarded a dispensary license, the applicant must obtain another license for cultivation, Hollis said. The cultivation license, which could take six months to obtain, allows dispensaries to grow cannabis for prescriptions, he said.

Hollis said following the licensing phase, the company will work  toward locating patients in surrounding areas.

“Once we get a license, the process of building a facility starts. It’s a big mission,” he said.