CHICAGO (CBS)–Some Illinois patients turning to medical marijuana for pain relief are complaining that a company claiming to help people get medical cannabis registry ID cards is taking their money without delivering the promised product.
Those patients tell CBS 2 that they’re out several hundred dollars and don’t have their marijuana prescriptions.
Medical cannabis in Illinois is big business. Retail sales in July alone topped $11 million.
In the U.S., 28 states have legalized medical marijuana in recent years. In states with more relaxed laws like Washington and Colorado, almost anyone can walk into a store and buy various types of cannabis–without a state-issued ID card.
But in Illinois, where medical cannabis has only been legal for five years, the state’s Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program still requires anyone getting marijuana to have a medical cannabis registry identification card.
The process requires multiple steps, starting with a valid written certification from a physician specifying their condition and other documentation before the Illinois Department of Public Health decides whether to issue a pass for medical cannabis.
CBS 2 investigative reporter Brad Edwards reports on a financial trap designed to take advantage of people seeking medical marijuana.
Edwards went to suburban Gurnee Friday, where some patients were picketing against allegedly getting ripped off by a business–Medical Cannabis Community Outreach–that claims to help people sign up for cannabis cards.
Amber Abuja told CBS 2 she experiences chronic pain after getting stabbed nine times. She said her brother intervened during the stabbing.
He saved her life, but lost his.
Abuja is seeking medical marijuana to ease both the physical and emotional pain she’s been experiencing since the stabbing 18 months ago.
Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Abuja’s condition is on the list of the state’s qualifying conditions for a marijuana card.
Amber said she paid $400 to the business that claims to assist patients.
“They didn’t send in two-thirds of my application,” she said.
She was eventually refunded the money, but there’s a growing group of people who have logged complaints with the state.
The mission of Medical Cannabis Community outreach as defined on its website is simply to help people get a medical marijuana card.
It operates a storefront in an Addison strip mall, but no one was there on Friday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health doesn’t certify such businesses, and has logged complaints about Medical Cannabis Community Outreach.
The state also says if a third party promises they can expedite or guarantee acceptance into the cannabis program, they’re lying.
No one from the business showed up to an advertising event planned for Friday.