Wicker Park clinic has received a whopping 20,000 calls inquiring about Illinois' new legislation regarding the drug, and they're struggling to keep up. Nesita Kwan reports.
Since Good Intentions opened in Chicago in August, the medical marijuana clinic has received a whopping 20,000 calls inquiring about Illinois' new legislation regarding the drug.
"We can't keep up with demand," clinic spokesman Dan Reid said.
The initial response was so big that Good Intentions, which also has a location in Michigan, had to start hiring more staff to return calls, answer questions and set up appointments.
"These are seriously ill people," Reid said, "many of whom are going to die and die in pain."
When Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law this summer, Illinois became the 20th state to allow the use of medical marijuana, instituting strict laws about who can participate in the program.
Only terminally ill patients suffering from one of 33 listed illnesses, including cancer and HIV, are eligible, and even then a patient can be recommended for no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks from a doctor with a previous history of treating the patient.
After the recommendation, patients then must go to a dispensary or a cultivation center, which aren't yet created in Illinois.
The law states medical marijuana can only be purchased from one of 60 state-regulated dispensing centers that would be under 24-hour surveillance, and employees at the centers must undergo criminal background checks.
The bill won't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014, and state officials are still hashing out the rules.
Good Intentions was created to facilitate the legislation and help patients through the process.
"I anticipate that the State of Illinois will be using the next few months to sort out regulations and implementation of the program before the new law takes effect in January,” Good Intentions president Tammy Jacobi said when the Chicago clinic first opened. "In the meantime, we encourage patients to contact us and learn more about how to become an Illinois medical marijuana patient."
Reid said they also formed a patient advocacy group called the Thomas Jefferson Project to work with regulators to try and expedite the rule-making process and make the legislation as effective as possible.
In the meantime, people keep calling. Reid said the clinic is doing everything it can to take their calls.
The clinic keeps daily hours at 1723 N. Ashland Ave., and patients seeking information about the Compassionate Use Act can call 312-859-6754.