Illinois Dispensaries Gearing Up for Launch

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Marijuana industry observers in Illinois say just about all the pieces are in place for the state’s medical cannabis program to launch within the next two weeks.

Illinois’ first cannabis crop has been harvested, processed and packaged, while the four state-certified laboratories are waiting for product to test, according to the Chicago Tribune. Regulators have started mailing the first of some 3,200 medical marijuana cards to registered patients, and a database that verifies patients and tracks product is already monitoring existing product in warehouses.

Six dispensaries and 13 cultivation sites have been approved to open.

Observers predicted the program would exceed 100,000 patients – and it still may – but only about 24,000 people have started the online registration process, which requires submitting fingerprints, passing a criminal background check and having a doctor certify that the patient has one of about 40 qualifying medical conditions.

Some investors have pulled out or scaled back funding because of the smaller-than-expected patient count so far.

But business owners remain confident that the numbers will grow once product is available, while regulators expect that 25 dispensaries will be open by the end of the year.