News Local/State

Medical Marijuana Site Nearing Completion

Dan Linn with Phoenix Botanial addresses a group Sunday in a public forum at the Champaign Public Library.

Dan Linn with Phoenix Botanial addresses a group Sunday in a public forum at the Champaign Public Library. Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Construction is nearly complete on Champaign County’s first medical marijuana dispensary.  Phoenix Botanical expects to open doors at its Neil Street location in Champaign in first two weeks of April.  General Manager and National Policy Director Dan Linn says Illinois' total number of qualifying patients now - about 5,000 - is a bit low, but also should be seen as a sign of success.

However, Linn says the pilot program still needs its share of qualifying conditions, and physicians prescribing the drug to show state lawmakers it should be extended beyond January of 2018.

"The reluctance of the medical community to embrace this medicine is directly a result of the lack of information of medical cannabis, and the medical training that doctors go through," he said.  "There's also a lot of resistance due to it being a Schedule One substance (illegal under federal law, with potential for abuse.)  This is a natural medicine.  We think that this is something that can replace a lot of pharmaeceutical drugs."

In his comments before about 50 people in a public forum at the Champaign Public Library, Linn also pushed for legislative efforts to add to the list of 37 qualifying conditions for prescribing medicinal marijuana.  He says measures passed by lawmakers tend to have a greater impact than recommendations made by Illinois' Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

"The amount of jobs that have been created, the amount of investments that have been made from the medical cannabis industry is something we think (Governor Bruce Rauner) should be on board with," Linn said.

Questions at Sunday's forum ranged from the time it takes for the state to approve new patients to what patients can expect to pay on average per visit for the drug.  Linn says it ranges from 50 to 100 dollars.

Linn says there were a few complications in getting settled in Champaign, noting the current spot at 1704 N. Neil Street is the third site Phoenix Botanical has moved to.  Linn says his company was initially too close to one that had planned to locate in Urbana, and there were problems with the building at its second location.

The Urbana site was to be set up by Nu Med RX at 105 E. University Ave.  There's been no update from company on that location.