When the New Year rolls around, there should be at least one place in La Salle County where patrons can purchase legalized weed.
The Ottawa PharmaCannis location is looking to make the move into recreational sales, assuming Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill legislators passed legalizing weed in Illinois. So, come Jan. 1, 2020, there will be some changes at the dispensary.
“But not to the detriment of our medical patients,” said Jeremy Unruh, director of public and regulatory affairs for PharmaCannis.
Unruh emphasized medical patients will not be left in the dust when the new law goes into effect. And House Bill 1438 has language that ensures dispensaries carry enough products for their medical patients. But the shopping process will be different depending on needs and wants. Unruh said there is a wide spectrum of customers between those seeking marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.
“When a medical patient comes into one of our dispensaries for a first visit, it’s 30-45 minutes with a patient care representative,” he said.
That likely won’t be the case for those seeking it for recreational use. PharmaCannis has some minor aesthetic changes planned for the Ottawa dispensary, but most of the preparation is going into how they will operate when the new law goes into effect.
“We’ll need to beef up our process internally,” Unruh said, adding that dispensaries have to count product sales and report them to the state.
And that is one reason the medical dispensaries are getting the first swing at selling recreational marijuana. The 55 existing Illinois locations can apply for early access to sell legalized pot.
“We’re positioned in the best place to immediately help Illinois expand their revenue,” Unruh said. “We’ve already cracked the nut on a lot of this stuff.”
Illinois will allow the dispensaries to look into opening a second location in their region before licensing new start ups. Unruh said PharmaCannis is waiting for the Governor’s signature before considering a second location. The Ottawa location could be a good revenue generator for the city. Municipalities can tax up to 3% on recreational marijuana sales. And counties can tax up to 3.75% for unincorporated areas if PharmaCannis does add a new location outside of municipal boundaries.