Illinois medical marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois medical marijuana

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A small building nestled off Interstate 70 in Collinsville looks like a typical doctor’s office, until you get inside and look up close at the colorful artwork on the walls. They’re portraits of marijuana plants.

At this dispensary, about 12 miles east of the Missouri border, patients and the medical staff have lively conversations about the various medical marijuana products available, from brownies and blueberry-flavored candies to transdermal patches.

Medical cannabis related products are sold at a medical cannabi outreach clinic in Shelbyville, Ilinoia on April 29, 2017
Jeff Bossert | Illinois Public Media

Medical marijuana has been available in Illinois for about 18 months. But many people around the state, particularly in Southern Illinois, say they can't find a doctor in their area to help them. A few groups have found a way to change that — they're now bringing doctors directly to the patients with qualifying conditions. More than 30 hopeful patients registered for a recent clinic in Shelbyville, held by Medical Cannabis Outreach.

Army Veteran Gabrielle Hyde suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which often means sleep deprivation and frequent panic attacks. And that means she’s limited in what she and her family can do.

Front of building for HCI Alternatives
(courtesy HCI Alternatives)

The 5,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the Metro East.

One of just 23 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Illinois, HCI Alternatives opened its doors at noon on Monday in Collinsville.

"It’s been a very long road, and we’re all really excited," said Scott Abbott, director of HCI security and compliance, "and I know a lot of the patients who have been calling us are equally excited."

While former Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ Compassionate Care Act into law in August 2013, legal marijuana sales did not begin until November.