COLLINSVILLE (KMOV.com) – It’s been one year since the first medical marijuana dispensary opened in the Metro East and the number of patients continues to grow.
HCI Alternatives in Collinsville opened their doors last January with 89 patients, one year later there are more than 700.
Kelly Lange’s son Steven is one of those patients.
“Steven is 27-years-old and has epilepsy and autism. He is nonverbal,” said the single mother who is the sole caretaker for her son.
He received his medical marijuana card about 10 months ago and has been using THC and CBD oils to control his seizures. Lange says they’ve been cut almost in half.
“Since we started using the oil the recuperation time is just unbelievable. He could have a couple of seizures and he could be up an hour playing,” said Lange.
She picks up the medicine every other week at HCI Alternatives.
Scott Abbott, the chief operating officer for HCI, says the first year has been a huge success.
Right now Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Pilot program is set to end in 2020 which is a concern for Abbott, but he hopes it will continue.
“I don’t see it going way, it’s just been too valuable for patients in the form of health and from a business model it’s been very successful and I know tax dollars are coming in, so I know Illinois is going to see that,” he explained.
The latest number released at the beginning of January show that 14,770 people are participating in the program.
One of the concerns when HCI Alternatives was starting up was from neighboring residents concerned it would bring crime to the area.
But the dispensary, which sits right next to the Illinois State Police Headquarters, has seen no issues.
Collinsville police say there have no reports of break-ins or robberies.
Abbott says they maintain a high level of security.
“We’ve had no problems and I know we’re good neighbors,” he explained.
This year, HCI expanded its normal operating hours by an hour each day to meet the higher volume of registered patients. The dispensary is now open Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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