Champaign medical-marijuana dispensary expected to open in March

Champaign medical-marijuana dispensary expected to open in March

CHAMPAIGN — At least one of the two medical marijuana dispensaries coming to Champaign-Urbana is projected to open sometime in March.

Phoenix Botanicals, to be operated by Phoenix Farms, is under construction at 1704 S. Neil St., Suite C, Champaign, and should be able to pin down its exact opening day in March in about a week, according to Caprice Sweatt, founder and CEO of Medical Cannabis Outreach, the organization hired by Phoenix Farms to register and educate patients in the area.

As of Monday, the state hadn't yet approved final dispensary licenses for Phoenix Farms or NuMed Rx, the dispensary planned to open at the former Blockbuster Video store at 105 E. University Ave., U.

Jerry Ramshaw, president of Ramshaw Real Estate and a part-owner of the building, said the dispensary will be leasing about 2,000 square feet.

Sweatt, also both a longtime medical cannabis patient and a partner of the Salveo Health & Wellness cannabis dispensary in Canton with her husband, Eric Sweatt, will help launch Phoenix Botanicals with four free educational seminars to be held in Champaign, Urbana, Danville and Charleston this month and in early February.

Medical Cannabis Outreach provides free patient registration services, along with fingerprinting and photographs, counseling, education and community outreach.

Sweatt will cover information on Illinois' medical cannabis pilot program and the state law, the medicinal benefits of cannabis and the current research, she said.

After each one-hour program, she said, people attending can stick around for help with the application process. Fingerprinting, a required part of the application, is provided, she said.

"It's a tough process," Sweatt said. "You have to get that doctor on board."

The 49-year-old Sweatt said she's had Crohn's disease, a potentially debilitating condition that can come with abdominal pain and fatigue, for 33 years. She began medicating with cannabis in her 20s, and has been prescription drug-free for 25 years, she said.

Doctors often deny patients access to medical cannabis, even when they're terminally ill, she said, and her organization is also working with a large cultivator on outreach and education for doctors to change that.

For others who doubt the benefits, she encourages them to do some research.

"Google medical marijuana and that condition and you're going to be blown away by the studies that have been done," she said.

Her organization has gotten about 780 patients registered across the state, Sweatt said.

As long as patients have one of the 39 approved conditions on the list and they don't have a felony record, "we can get them approved to the program," she said.

Medical Cannabis Outreach plans to have office space in Champaign, probably inside Phoenix Botanicals, to register patients, Sweatt said.

Seminars have been scheduled for:

— Jan. 23, Danville Public Library, 319 N. Vermilion St., Danville, 2-3 p.m.

— Jan. 24, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign, 2-3 p.m.

— Feb. 6, Charleston Carnegie Public Library, 712 6th St., Charleston, 2-3 p.m.

— Feb. 7, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., Urbana, 10-11 a.m.

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Chambanacitizen wrote on January 04, 2016 at 1:01 pm

So now someone can be denied medicine if they have a felony on their record? Wow...gotta love Illinois. What does a felony have to do with recieving medicine?  Complete ingnorance running this state.

Homeboy wrote on January 04, 2016 at 1:01 pm

That's a brilliant idea for the location with all the restaurants nearby. You just run across the street to Taco Bell to take care of your munchies!

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 04, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Every state with legalized marijuana sales started with medical marijuana programs.  The completion of the application without a doctor's signature is the problem.  Problems with getting a doctor's approval, and higher than street prices means that most will still be dependent on their compassionate dealer.

Want to improve the state's tax revenue?  Request a referendum statewide on legalized marijuana.  The state's take on the business would go towards the state's debt, not to new projects.  Restore the previous temporary tax at the same time for essential basics.  Don't be concerned what corporations are granted grower licenses, or dispensary licenses.  That goes to the politicians who will see campaign donations from the licensees.  Give the terminally ill, and other medical conditions on the list a 50% discount on the product.  It would be the "dealer's cost".  Oh, the product should be free off rocks, sticks, and hair.

The penalties for impaired driving, and employment should remain.  Transportation of the product over state lines would remain a federal crime.  People to do it just like using personal communication devices, drinking alcohol, smoking, hunting, and gun ownership.  Heck, tax gun ownership a yearly tax also.

New revenue is needed.  Look for alternative revenue; but don't let them blow smoke past you.  Negotiate via a statewide referendum.  

BruckJr wrote on January 04, 2016 at 10:01 pm

The state's take would go towards debt, not to new projects?  Wasn't that to have been the case with the former 67% increase?  That increase brought in $30 billion in new revenue and reduced debt by $3 billion.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 05, 2016 at 11:01 am

That is why it should be in a referendum with the specifics defined.  People would have a choice.  If they demanded that the sales proceeds go to pay off state debts, they might agree to the legalization.  On an issue like this, the voters need to decide where the money goes.

Other opinions could include not paying the state bondholders instead of stiffing the citizens.  "No new projects" has to stay until the state can afford them.