A Quad Cities Area dispensary told Local 4 News they’ve had inquiries about a new Illinois medical cannabis program, but managers haven’t seen anyone use it at their location.
The Illinois Opioid Alternative Pilot Program started Feb. 1.
State lawmakers approved it in 2018 to let medical marijuana be a substitute for opioid prescriptions.
Nature’s Treatment of Illinois in Milan expected to see a lot of business as the new program started, but that hasn’t been the case.
NTI Operations Manager Ron Glassner said, “We felt, as did the state, that there’d be quite a rush, to begin with.”
When the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program was approved last year, there was a lot of anticipating.
Glassner said, “We got extra space. We got more people. We have people dedicated just to helping them do our side of the paperwork.”
But one month in, Nature’s Treatment Operations Manager Ron Glassner said they’re still waiting for that first patient to come.
Glassner said, “To date, we’ve had none.”
Glassner believes what’s behind this slow start begins in the doctor’s office.
Glassner said, “Doctors have always been somewhat hesitant, especially it seems in this region.”
He told Local 4 News, registering people for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program is a bit more involved than the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program started in 2014.
Glassner said patients first need to visit their doctor to request enrollment and get approved, that then requires physicians to complete additional legwork.
Glassner said, “They have to go online at that point in time, right then, and fill out a certain amount of paperwork within the computer system.”
Without that, Glassner said dispensaries are limited in what they can do.
Glassner said, “We can access to sign the patient so they indeed can come to the dispensary.”
Even with the stagnant beginning, Glassner is expecting that will turn around.
Glassner said, “The state’s numbers said it would probably in the first year, the current number of patients, so that would have been about 50,000.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported as of March 1, OAPP had 328 patients registered and another 356 awaiting physician certification.
There are also 236 physicians registered.
The OAPP certification is only valid for 90 days and then required patients to get it renewed if they choose.
Local 4 News also reached out to the Dispensary in Fulton said they’ve had about 10-15 patients so far but are starting to see those numbers going up.
There is also the Star Flower Clinic in Fulton that complete the physician certification.
Patients can only go to the dispensary where they sign up.