Medical marijuana debuts in Illinois but some patients turned away

After years of taking anti-inflammatory drugs and prescription painkillers that messed up his stomach, the 52-year-old Chicagoan who has degenerative spinal disease said he hoped that marijuana would help him reduce his use of such medications. After seeing cannabis help his sister with multiple sclerosis, and trying it himself in Colorado, he said he’s convinced of its benefits…

Further lending a mood of secrecy to the proceedings, no customers are allowed inside the dispensaries unless they have been certified by a doctor as having one of about 40 specified debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis. Patients have to submit fingerprints to pass a criminal background check and must show a state-issued photo ID.

Some patients were turned away because they had not yet registered online with one dispensary, as required. Some said they didn’t have time to register since receiving their IDs as recently as Friday or Saturday.

One of those who left empty-handed was Ryan Flannigan, of Palos Heights, who has spinal arthritis and muscular dystrophy and walks with a cane at age 24.

“It’s depressing. … I’ve been waiting two years for this moment,” Flannigan said…

Second in line outside The Clinic was Edwin Schlesser, who drove north from Streamwood to buy medication that he said is preferable to the narcotics prescribed to him for a spinal condition.

“My doctor was actually proud of me for never taking the pain pills,” said Schlesser, expressing worries about addiction…

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