Patients meet individually in this room with a consultant to learn which strain of medical marijuana best addresses their symptoms.

Delays in the availability of actual product to distribute have pushed back the opening date for Evanston’s medical marijuana dispensary, but that did not stop a public meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn or an open house at the facility itself. PharmaCannis CEO Teddy Scott told the RoundTable opening day is right around the corner.

The facility, located in City-owned property on the first floor of the City’s Maple Avenue parking deck, comes out of the Illinois medical marijuana law that is slowly becoming effective across the state. The primary holdup, said Dr. Scott, is the marijuana growth cycle. There simply is not enough product available right now to stock the dispensaries opening across the state.

“I know of one dispensary that had to close – it ran out of product,” said Dr. Scott. A PharmaCannis dispensary in Schaumburg sits ready to open but is dark because there is nothing to distribute at the moment. “The picture will be very different a month from now,” he added.

Evanston’s shop lacks not only product, but furniture as well. “Product is coming in the very near future. It’s coming. Furniture is coming,” said Dr. Scott.

The store already pays rent to its landlord, the City of Evanston. PharmaCannis already paid construction costs. They want to be open, and very soon.

In preparation for opening, PharmaCannis held a public meeting on Nov. 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn to discuss the Illinois law. About 50 people gathered with questions, mostly about the law and how to get the patient card necessary to enter the shop and purchase medical marijuana.

At the meeting, co-founder Norah Scott explained the process. First, she advised, a patient should obtain authorization from a medical doctor certifying that she or he qualifies for a card. “It all starts with the doctor,” she said.

The Illinois law is different from laws in other states in that here a patient must be certified as having one of 39 specified conditions in order to qualify, said Dr. Scott at the Nov. 4 meeting. “This is not California,” he said, where anyone with “allergies” can get a marijuana card.

According to the PharmaCannis website, prospective patients

·  Must be at least 18 years of age (minors must have an adult caregiver and be required to have physician certification from two physicians)

·  Must be a legal resident of Illinois, with proof of residency

·  Have a fingerprint consent form and 2 inch by 2 inch (passport-style) photograph

·  Have a certification signed by a doctor stating that the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marijuana.

A patient who meets those qualifications must still complete the application form (either online or on paper), submit the application with a $100 fee, and wait for the State’s decision.

Several attendees expressed concern about the fingerprint form. Under the law, a fingerprint is only good for 60 days. “Start with the doctor,” said Ms. Scott several times. The fingerprint expiration means some patients have had to get a second fingerprint card in order to complete an application.

PharmaCannis also hosted an open house at their Maple Avenue facility on Nov. 9, providing the general public their only opportunity to enter the facility without a medical marijuana card. When the dispensary is open, security personnel will stand at the front door checking cards and IDs. Inside, a second intake individual will check cards and IDs again. After entry, patients will wait in a lobby area before being taken back into the counselor’s area, said Ms. Scott at the open house.

Counselors will then meet with patients to discuss symptoms, advising which strain of marijuana would provide symptom relief. Orders are then taken to the dispensary window.

The only person allowed behind the dispensary window, for now, is store manager Tana Francello. No one else will be permitted to distribute product. Asked if she would ever be able to take a day off, Ms. Francello responded, “We’re working on that.”

Dr. Scott said he expected product to cost about $300 per ounce, but pricing has not been established yet. Under the law, a patient is permitted 2.5 ounces every 14 days.