Illinois MMJ Program Success Requires 600% Patient Growth

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Marijuana business owners in Illinois say they need to see 20,000 to 30,000 customers in the next six to 12 months to stabilize what they worry is a struggling industry, according to the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago.

So far, about 4,000 patients have registered for the state’s medical marijuana program, and about 5,200 people have submitted patient card applications, according to the state’s medical marijuana program.

Illinois dispensary owners blame the low patient numbers on an insufficient number of qualifying conditions which limits the number of patients who can qualify for the program, the reluctance of some doctors to to accept the program, and state politics, according to the paper.

Michael Mayes, CEO of Quantum 9 Inc., a Chicago-based cannabis consultancy, told the paper that adding “chronic pain” to the list of qualifying conditions would be a major boost for the program, possibly tripling the number of patients.

The state’s medical marijuana program is in the midst of receiving petitions for new conditions to be added to the list, but before it can consider those, the Illinois health department must take action on eight conditions that an advisory panel in October recommended be added to the list. Those include: chronic pain due to trauma, chronic pain syndrome, chronic post-operative pain, intractable pain, osteoarthritis, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

There are now 22 operating dispensaries in Illinois, and another 12 to 14 could open before the end of March. Between Nov. 9, when the first dispensary opened, and the end of 2015, dispensaries generated about $1.7 million in sales.