Assessing 2 years of medical marijuana in Illinois

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state’s program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

Scott Abbott is the company’s chief operating officer. He recently gave his assessment of medical marijuana in Illinois and where the business could be headed.

Listen to Wayne Pratt’s interview with HCI Alternatives’ COO Scott Abbott.

On the future of medical marijuana

Abbott says much of the future boils down to federal versus state’s rights. The federal government considers cannabis as a drug on par with heroin, which Abbott insists is not correct. That classification is having an impact.

“The fact that it’s still a Schedule 1 drug means that the insurance companies are not going to get involved in it. The banking industry’s not going to get involved in it,” Abbott said. He pointed to the Food and Drug Administration, which might be preparing to release two cannabis-derived drugs to treat children’s seizures.

“If that is the case, there is no way the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) can continue to say that there is no medical use for cannabis.”

On the climate in Springfield

A legislative committee recently voted 16-1 in favor of a measure that stipulates if a patient is eligible for an opiate prescription from a doctor, then the person is also eligible for a cannabis card. That would give patients a pain treatment alternative as the nation deals with opioid abuse. Another bill in Springfield calls for legalizing pot for recreational use.

Abbott, a former

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