Itasca man with MS among first customers at Addison pot dispensary

A 19-year-old Itasca man with multiple sclerosis was among the first in the suburbs to legally buy medicinal marijuana at an Addison clinic on Monday.

Christian Favela emerged from the tightly secured clinic at 11:40 a.m. with some Grape God Bud.

"I have multiple sclerosis, and with that you get a lot of muscle spasms. This will soothe the muscles. It'll make everything nice and mellow (so I can) slow down and feel good," he said. "I've done a lot of research and I'm confident this will make me feel better. I'm looking forward to it."

But the process wasn't without its glitches.

EarthMed, 852 S Westgate St., tucked away in an industrial center, opened its doors at 11 a.m. to about a dozen customers. The first four to exit, however, were turned away without receiving any pot.

Those patients, though they had their patient ID cards, had not registered at the Addison dispensary, as required by state law, clinic and industry spokeswoman Kim Morreale McAuliffe said. The filing and registration period could take as long as 48 hours, but some patients and caregivers received their ID cards in the mail only over the weekend, she said.

Favela was the first customer to leave with some medical marijuana. He said the process went smoothly.

"It was good and fast. They took good care of me and I liked it a lot," Favela said. "They knew what they were doing,"

Michael Murphy, 54, of Mokena emerged with four different types of marijuana, including one called White Harmony. He had used marijuana previously and said he "feels better about it being legal now."

He hopes the drugs, a four-month supply that cost him about $290, will allow him to ease the use of pain killers he has used to treat injuries sustained in a car crash and old football injuries.

He, too, was happy with the process.

"There's a learning curve, but overall I was satisfied," he said. "They took good care of me."

Legal sales of medical marijuana started across the state Monday, The four licensed suburban facilities are in Addison, Mundelein, North Aurora and Schaumburg, but only the Addison and Mundelein clinics opened Monday.

Jeremy Unruh, general counsel and chief compliance officer for PharmaCannis Health & Wellness, said the company's Schaumburg dispensary is not expected to open until Monday, Nov. 16, but the company's North Aurora and Ottawa facilities are expected to be open as soon as Tuesday.

The company is in the process of getting shipments of marijuana from three different cultivation centers, Unruh said. Once received, the product is scanned into the company's inventory control system, corresponding with what has been entered into the state's system.

"We want to make sure we're rolling these products out that allows for a positive patient experience," Unruh said. "People are showing up in Schaumburg, and they're not happy, but the challenge is making sure we have these places open in a manner that's compliant to sell product to these folks the way the state wants us to."

A few potential customers showed up at the Schaumburg location Monday morning. One was Mike Dornan of Medinah, who said he was hoping to learn more about how he could qualify for medical marijuana.

Dornan, 35, said he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 10 years ago and began using marijuana to manage his pain six years ago. He said his doctor supports his decision to seek medical marijuana.

"I smoke pot now. Why not do it legally?" Dornan said.

He said marijuana is more effective for him than pain pills and helps him sleep through his pain.

"It was a huge weight off my shoulders" when the state legalized medical marijuana, Dornan said.

State officials expect that 25 dispensaries will be open to the public by the end of the year. Illinois is among 23 states with medical marijuana programs.

The four other licensed dispensaries in Illinois that were cleared to open Monday are in Marion, Canton, Quincy and Ottawa.

• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this story.

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  CEO Gus Koukoutsakis and CFO Michael Perez of Earth Med in Addison, talk to the media before opening their new medical marijuana dispensary. Mark Black/
  A container of Grape God Bud marijuana was purchased Monday morning at Earth Med in Addison. Mark Black/
  PharmaCannis Health & Wellness in Schaumburg isn't expected to begin selling medical marijuana until next week, despite being among the four suburban dispensaries cleared to begin sales Monday. The company's other suburban dispensary, in North Aurora, may open Tuesday. Bob Chwedyk/
  Island Lake resident Ron Lindstaedt shows his prescription of marijuana, called Grape God Bud, at the Clinic Mundelein on the first day of medical cannabis sales on Monday. More than 3,000 patients in Illinois can buy marijuana legally for the first time. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  Chris Michels of Antioch, left, talks to James and Stefanie Poggi of Somonauk as they wait to receive prescriptions of marijuana at The Clinic Mundelein on the first day of medical cannabis sales on Monday. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
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