Medicinal marijuana battles stigmas and state bureaucracy

  • Written by Joe Boyle

When marijuana was discussed several years ago as a means to alleviate pain for people who are suffering a variety of debilitating illnesses, there were a few snickers. The use of marijuana is nothing new although many of us link it to the 1960s when many people began to try it.

I attended a workshop back in September to inform the residents of Worth about the misconceptions of medicinal marijuana. Obviously, the community was at least interested in hearing from the representatives of Windy City Cannabis, which was going to manage the medicinal marijuana dispensary in the village.

Worth Mayor Mary Werner and other officials spent nearly two years to convince residents that the future employees of the dispensary are going to be good neighbors. Of course, Worth officials also believed that having the medicinal marijuana dispensary would eventually be profitable.

I believe that is still the case. Residents once thought that the building would attract drugs and an increase in crime would occur. The dispensary has been open for just over three months and no problems with the community have occurred.

But while Worth has accepted the fact that medicinal marijuana is available to treat ailments, apparently preconceived beliefs are hampering the treatments. Werner touched on this during a Chicago Ridge Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon in which she is concerned that the facility will not remain open unless Gov. Rauner can help loosen the restrictions on what illnesses can be treated.

Illinois has some of the strictest regulations on what can be described for medication. Werner even put in a call to Rauner’s office to see what he can do. She is still awaiting a return phone call. Werner said that 5,000 people have signed up to receive medicinal marijuana. The goal at this point was 10,000. Steve Weisman, the CEO of Windy City Cannabis, said the figures are below where they should be.

However, in a story that appeared in our April 7 edition, Weisman said that in his mind the program is still a success. He mentioned of talking to people who had tears in their eyes because the pain they had been suffering had been alleviated after taking a prescription. Weisman talked about a quadriplegic, who after treatments, could actually move his toes.

Weisman points out that medicinal marijuana is not a cure for these ailments. But those testimonials have Weisman confident the program will draw more participants. The problem is that previous Gov. Pat Quinn had a different viewpoint than Rauner. I can’t specifically say why Rauner seems less than enthusiastic about the program. Perhaps he does not see the project as bringing in lots of money. I also believe it was another way for Rauner to stick it to Quinn, who approved of the program.

Illinois law already has 39 conditions and diseases that already qualify for medicinal marijuana use with a doctor’s signature. Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis qualify.

Conditions that have been rejected by Rauner are anorexia nervosa, chronic postoperative pain, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine headaches.

I realize some people have their doubts about medicinal marijuana. But I cannot understand why Rauner and his mostly hand-picked board would object to something that can help relieve the throbbing pain of migraine headaches, for instance

The other obstacle facing Weisman and Windy City Cannabis employers is that many doctors are resistant to sign for their patients who request medicinal marijuana. Some of these physicians believe that to do so could be interpreted as reckless by critics of medicinal marijuana. Again, the stigma attached to cannabis is still prevalent.

But there is some good news. Illinois medical marijuana shops had their best month yet in February with nearly $1.5 million in sales, bringing total retail sales to more than $4.4 million since the program began Nov. 9.

A program director said that registered dispensaries served 3,042 patients during February. Marijuana wholesalers pay a seven percent tax to the state. The wholesale sales reported indicate growers paid roughly $83,000 in taxes in sales for February. Concentrates and edibles became more widely available, contributing more than $362,000 to total February sales.

I think that prescription rates will pick up in Worth as well. The one suggestion I have is that perhaps through their website or by advertising, it should be noted that Windy City Cannabis is located at 11425 S. Harlem Ave. in Worth. More information can be obtained at

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .