Local dispensary already planning expand with legalization of marijuana in Illinois

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Nature’s Treatment of Illinois in Milan says it already has plans to expand with the legalization of marijuana in Illinois. 

Lawmakers ended last week on a historic note, passing a bill that would make Illinois the 11th state to legalize pot. 

“We are the first state to attempt something this big and this comprehensive in one piece of legislation,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Governor J.B. Pritzker already said he will sign the bill into law. Once that happens, the plan is to have cannabis available to sell on January 1, 2020. 

And here in the Quad Cities, local dispensaries are getting ready. 

“We knew it was coming it was only a matter of time,” said Nature’s Treatment of Illinois’ Manager, Shannon Ballegeer.

Ballegeer says they’ve already had people calling and dropping by their Milan facility to find out when they can legally get their hands on recreational marijuana.

“We have been getting a lot of phone calls and a lot of people even just coming into the dispensary looking to buy recreational, and right now we can only service medical patients,” said Ballegeer. “So we really want to make sure that we are taking care of them and that our phone lines aren’t backed up or our lobby isn’t full of people just asking questions about recreational. The time will come but it’s going to be a little bit before you can actually purchase recreational marijuana in Illinois.” 

Right now Nature’s Treatment is strictly a medical marijuana dispensary, but not for long.

“So we will have basically similar products, but they will be available to both,” said Ballegeer.  

As the only Illinois dispensary in the immediate Quad Cities area, it’s planning to expand.

“So it will be a lot of changes but the Quad Cities may be a really popular place to buy recreational marijuana,” she said.

That includes customers coming from the Iowa side of the river.  

“So anyone from Iowa that does come over and purchase after January 1, they cannot bring it back to Iowa, but they can purchase up to 15 grams of cannabis,” said Ballegeer.

She says while they’ll welcome those who just want to try their products, their first priority will be those who actually rely on them for medical treatment.

“We will do our best to keep everything separate so that our medical patients are not without their medicine,” said Ballegeer. 

Of course, the new law comes with regulations, which Ballegeer says they hope will ease some concerns. 

“You can’t just smoke in a park or go smoke outside of a grocery store,” she said.

But with the bill just one signature away from becoming law, they’re ready to break ground for big changes to their facility.

Ballegeer says they plan to expand their parking lot and waiting rooms to accommodate to the increase in visitors. They are also discussing the possibility of opening an additional location in the future. 

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