Chicago, Illinois – As part of a four-year pilot program, medical marijuana debuted Monday and around 3,300 patients were attended in 5 dispensaries across Illinois. Patients must receive their ID cards and register online in order to use a specific dispensary.

Over 100 patients were waiting Monday outside The Clinic Mundelein dispensary and they greeted by applause once the CEO of Green Thumb Industries Ben Kovler opened its door, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Medical marijuana debuted on Monday and around 3.300 patients were attended in 5 dispensaries across Illinois. Credit: Chicago Tribune

“This is a historic day in the state of Illinois. What we’ve gone through (to open) is nothing compared to what the patients have gone through”, commented Kovler.

In 2013, Illinois was declared the 21st state allowing cannabis for medical purposes. The law authorized a pilot program that would expire at the end of 2017. On the opening day, the Addison dispensary and others in Marion, Quincy, Canton and Chicago began selling marijuana, as informed by the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois. Others are expected to open Tuesday in North Aurora and Ottawa. A total of 18 grow houses and 60 dispensaries are expected to operate during the program.

Many people in the industry say 3,300 is far below the number of patients that is required to make the business viable in the state. A plausible reason might be the fact that among the 23 states with cannabis programs, Illinois has one of the most restrictive, since patients are asked not only to get tested by a doctor so they can prove they have at least one of 40 qualifying medical conditions, but they must also go through fingerprint-based criminal background checks in order to receive their ID card. Through this card the amount of marijuana bought can be controlled, as patients must not purchase more than 2 1/2 ounces every two weeks.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board (MCAI), which is a trade association licensed by the State to represent the cultivation centers and dispensary organizations, supports patients who are looking to apply for an ID card by offering guidance and explaining qualifying conditions.

The organization explained in a statement, “The MCAI strongly believes that every Illinois resident, who suffers from a painful or debilitating ailment, has the right to seek medical cannabis as an alternative treatment provided that with they obtain the approval of their physician.”

Moreover, they encourage Illinois residents that they present petitions to the Department of Public Health so they add new debilitating medical conditions to the existing list, which includes 39 diseases such as cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer disease.

Source: Chicago Tribune