Pubdate: Sun, 15 Nov 2015
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Times
Author: Robert McCoppin


CHICAGO - Patients bought $210,000 of medical marijuana in the first 
week it was legal in Illinois, marking what patients and industry 
officials said was a welcome, if overdue, start.

"By and large, things have gone well," said Joseph Wright, director 
of the Illinois medical marijuana pilot program.

More than 800 patients have bought 13,000 grams of cannabis since the 
state's first dispensaries opened Nov. 9. That's about half an ounce 
per customer, at an average price of $16 per gram, or about $450 per ounce.

That's higher than the average black-market price for pot in 
Illinois, which runs about $350 for an ounce of a high-grade variety 
of marijuana, according to the website

But advocates of medical marijuana say it's reasonable considering 
that the program provides a highquality product that has been tested 
to verify its content.

To buy the cannabis, prequalified patients had to designate a 
dispensary of choice. A small number of patients were turned away 
from the dispensaries because their designations did not show up in 
the state database, but regulators were working to correct that, Wright said.

The opening of a few dispensaries amounted to a soft launch of the 
industry in Illinois, the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, 
though the drug is still illegal under federal law.

Only about 3,300 patients are registered statewide, far below what is 
needed to sustain the new program but a decent start, industry officials said.

About 500 applicants were denied participation, most because they 
didn't submit all documentation or weren't found to have one of 
roughly 40 qualifying medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV or 
seizures, state officials said.

In the program's first week, seven dispensaries opened, supplied by 
four cultivation centers - well below the 60 dispensaries and 22 grow 
houses originally authorized. But industry officials said the 
incremental launch gave them a chance to work out the kinks of the 
medical marijuana program.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom