What Can Missouri Learn from Illinois' Medical Marijuana Experience?

We talked to the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Illinois

Michael Calhoun
November 12, 2018 - 6:55 am
Medical Marijuana in prescription bottle

© Andreblais | Dreamstime.com

Medical marijuana is coming to Missouri, but it's already been in Illinois for three years. So, what can the 'Show Me State' expect based on that?

Chris Stone is CEO of HCI Alternatives, with locations in Collinsville and Springfield. He feels Missouri can learn a lot.

"I would definitely tell the Missouri regulators that they should be looking at Illinois' law if they want to emulate something that's worked out really well."

Related: Missouri Passes Medical Marijuana...So What Happens Now?

Stone applauds Illinois' decision to allow a doctor to substitute opioids with cannabis instead for pain management. But Missourians may worried about marijuana dispenaries or cultivation popping up next door. Stone says they shouldn't be.

"Local communities will definitely have a say in terms of where those locations are going to go and what the setback requirements may be."

He says different communities in Illinois even have different minimum ages for entrance into dispenaries.

However, one big difference between Missouri and Illinois is that Missourians will be allowed to grow the plant themselves. 

Related: Missouri Voters Say Yes to Medical Marijuana

Another major potential difference is that Illinoisans might be able to use marijuana recreationally in the near future. There's been a push to allow the recreational use of cannabis, and incoming Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says he'd like to see recreational pot legalized "immediately." What does that mean for the industry?

"We've been saying for a couple of years that, at some point, it's inevitable," Stone told KMOX's Michael Calhoun.

He says expanding from medicinal to recreational will take some time.

"One, they need to legislate to make the change, so that's going to take a little time," Stone pointed out. "From that, once they make the change, they'll have to work with the agencies to get the rules and the regulatory side put together."

Stone says it'll a year to 18 months before anybody could walk in and buy marijuana in Illinois.  He says an interesting test of the tourism effect will be in Chicago. It's close to Michigan, which is already legalizing recreational marijuana.