Naperville marijuana dispensary getting ready to open

Future customers of the first medical marijuana dispensary in Naperville say they hope the facility lives up to its name by providing a welcome treatment alternative to traditional medications.

3C Compassionate Care Center held an open house Friday before its opening scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at 1700 Quincy Ave., Suite 103. The shop is the second operated by Traci and Hugo Fernandez of Batavia, whose first dispensary opened Dec. 7 in Joliet.

"It's very nice in Joliet. The employees are very helpful and knowledgeable," said 3C patient Susie Higgins of Naperville, who said she's pleased a dispensary soon will open closer to her home. "It's great. It's just, as it says, compassionate care."

The Fernandezes started their shops as a way to help patients with painful, debilitating conditions and to fund research on paralysis. Traci has a rare neurological disorder called transverse myelitis, which causes what she describes as tingling and "raw nerve pain." She's paralyzed from the chest down.

"Helping patients alleviate their symptoms is the biggest concern," Fernandez said.

The Naperville business will be open only to patients with state-issued permits to buy medical marijuana. Patients with one of 40 approved conditions, including spinal cord disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, cancer and HIV can receive the permit with a doctor's recommendation.

"The hardest part is having a doctor that's willing to accommodate you," prospective patient Alan Pappalardo of Naperville said.

Chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder are not yet on the list of acceptable conditions for medical pot patients. But 3C operators say they're hopeful the conditions could be added.

"Everyone in the industry is waiting for those final approvals," said Robert Livas, Traci's father and a partner in the business.

Once patients arrive at 3C Compassionate Care, which is marked only with small lettering on the door, a security guard will confirm the validity of their ID card, ensure they haven't exceeded quantity limits and set them up to see a dispensary worker in the main shop.

Livas said only two customers will be allowed to meet with dispensary workers at a time.

"We created a one-on-one situation with the bud tenders and the patients," Livas said.

The Joliet store has seen 200 patients - many of whom have become repeat customers - since opening nearly two months ago.

"The thing that caught us off guard was how emotional, how grateful the patients are," Livas said.

Future Naperville patients such as Higgins, who qualifies for the treatment because she has breast cancer, say they're pleased marijuana is now a medical option.

"It helped me through chemo and radiation," she said.

When 3C Naperville opens Thursday in the industrial park west of Ogden Avenue, it will sell dried flowers along with chocolates and wax concentrates.

Fernandez said other products to be added soon include cookies, gummy candies and a vape pen similar to an e-cigarette. Open house attendees got a chance to sample some of the future edibles that will be sold - cookies, biscotti and chocolate bark from vendor Cresco Labs in Kankakee - only without the infusion of marijuana.

3C will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The shop will be closed Wednesday and Sunday.

  Hugo Fernandez, left, talks with prospective medical marijuana patient Alan Pappalardo of Naperville on Friday during an open house at 3C Compassionate Care Center in Naperville. Fernandez said 20 percent of proceeds from sales at the new dispensary will go to fund research on paralysis. Bev Horne/
  Susie Higgins of Naperville gets a look Friday inside the main dispensing room of a medical marijuana shop called 3C Compassionate Care Center, which opens at 11 a.m. Thursday at 1700 Quincy Ave., Suite 103 in Naperville. Bev Horne/
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