Illinois’ medical marijuana business is running behind expectations, and while Normal’s dispensary is no exception, officials remain optimistic about its future.
Illinois operators say the number of patients allowed to buy the drug is too low to recoup investments, the Associated Press has reported, as retail sales of medical cannabis in Illinois only topped about $9.3 million last month.
The program has nearly 30,000 qualifying patients, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, which oversees it. Officials currently process about 400 applications weekly, along with another 250 requests for extensions for medical marijuana cards.
Normal’s dispensary has about 400 of those patients — substantial growth in the year-plus it’s been open, but below an estimate of 500-plus within a year from the Colorado company that owns and operates the facility.
“I think that’s starting to ramp up to where we hoped it would be,” said Trent Woloveck, president of dispensary operator TGS National, “and as we’ve seen the state and (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation) do a great job expanding it and making it easier for patients to gain access and doctors to recommend cannabis, that will grow more.”
Customer growth has allowed the company to add six employees at the dispensary, which now has 12 workers overall.
“A lot of the medicine is not able to be covered by insurance providers, but we’ve been providing the best possible pricing for our patients and customer support that’s a continued education,” said Woloveck.
“It’s been exciting to see the continued willingness of people to learn, and see the additional benefits the program can bring not only from an economic perspective — jobs, taxes — but from a social standpoint and for betterment of life.”
TGS bought the property, a former Curves weight loss facility at 501 Northtown Road in north Normal, and performed a large-scale renovation to turn it into a secured marijuana dispensary.
TGS’ Denver locations average more than 1,000 customers per day, but Colorado has legalized recreational marijuana rather than a medical program.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to continue to grow, not only from a medical patient perspective but with what the future may bring from an adult use perspective,” said Woloveck.