Illinois medical marijuana applications spike following recreational legalization

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In the three weeks since weed became legal in Illinois, there's been a big jump in people filling out applications for a medical marijuana card.

Innovative Wellness on the city's North Side has had to change their staffing to accommodate more patients hoping to be certified for medical marijuana.

"We used to be certifying about 100 patients a week, and now it has gone up to 150," said Dr. Rahul Khare, CEO of Innovative Wellness. "We are thinking in the next two weeks we are going to increase to 200 patients per week."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, medical marijuana card applications are up. From Jan. 1 to 17, 2020, 2,573 people applied, up from 1,922 from the same period in December 2019.

So why now? After all, medical marijuana has been legal in Illinois since 2014.

"I think a lot of them were waiting until the recreation became law where they could go to a dispensary, but once they got there they noticed the 30 percent taxes that were there," Khare said.

Medical cardholds not only save on taxes, but are also able to skip lines and are guaranteed product access at dispensaries.

Dashawn White said he's noticed the high taxes, but he wants a medical card for health reasons.

"It keeps me chill," he said.

But for others it has more to do with non-health-related factors. Some of Cara Allen's friends are considering applying for a card.

"They say that's the only way they can go about getting it and for it to be affordable," she said.

For those who qualify for a medical cannabis card, they could start buying legal weed within hours of applying.
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