Illinois harvests first medical marijuana crop

The state's list of approved uses allows pot prescriptions for debilitating conditions and diseases like cancer and AIDS, but it does not include "chronic pain."
By Brooks Hays  |  Oct. 3, 2015 at 6:14 PM
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BARRY, Ill., Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Many of Illinois' medical marijuana cultivation centers are harvesting their first medicinal marijuana crop this weekend.

The 75,000-square-foot cultivation center in Barry, Illinois -- the biggest in the state -- is already preparing its first shipment to patients. The center is one of two owned and managed by Revolution Enterprises.

"The capabilities, technologically, scientifically, within these facilities is unheard of in the industry," Tim McGraw, CEO of Revolution Enterprises, told reporters.

The state's medical marijuana law took effect on January 1, 2014, making Illinois the 20th state to approve the use of pot for specific medical conditions. Medical marijuana products will soon be available in dispensaries around the state.

McGraw says the new industry will be a boon to the economy and to patients who need relief.

"Drug abuse goes down, opiate deaths have gone down by 25 percent in Colorado. Crime goes down, liquor sales go down," he said. "It's a tsunami of good."

But Illinois' list of conditions approved for medical marijuana currently excludes post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- something McGraw hopes will change soon.

"It's very unfortunate for them," McGraw said. "We're looking at about 22 suicides a day from returning veterans, and I think, most Americans are not aware of that number."

On Wednesday, politicians and veterans met in Barry to discuss the possibility of adding PTSD to the list of approved conditions.

"We had a great discussion about how medical cannabis and its potential to help those individuals suffering from pain," Barry officials wrote on the city's Facebook page.

The state's list includes debilitating conditions and diseases like cancer and AIDS, but it does not include "chronic pain" -- the condition for which most medical marijuana is proscribed in states like California and Oregon.

Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a report on the growing medical marijuana industry. According the the agency, some 2,600 patients have been approved for medical marijuana prescriptions. More than 60 percent of them are women, and more than half are older than 51.

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