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Thursday, June 1, 2017 12:05 am

Springfield’s new marijuana store

Bret Bender and Dan Linn of the Maribis of Springfield, a medical cannabis dispensary in Grandview.
PHOTO BY ALEX CAMP
A new local dispensary aims to service medical cannabis to patients suffering from various physical ailments.

Maribis of Springfield (MOS), located at 2272 North Grand Ave. in Grandview, is one of two medical marijuana dispensaries in Sangamon County. The other, HCI Alternatives, is located in downtown Springfield. MOS is available to patients with medical cannabis cards valid in Sangamon County, which may be obtained through the Department of Public Health.

MOS opened its doors last December, after the owner and her brother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, were fighting to get a license. “When the medical cannabis bill was passing thorough the General Assembly, the owner had a brother who was battling cancer,” MOS representative Bret Bender said in an interview. “They applied for multiple dispensaries and cultivation centers, and were eventually granted a dispensary license. Unfortunately, the owner’s brother passed away a month before the license was awarded.”

Bender credited the Village of Grandview for being receptive to having a dispensary in the area. “They saw an opportunity to bring businesses and jobs into their community and they were very welcoming to have us come in,” he said. “We’re very low key and we’re not out-in-your-face about our business. We don’t have people coming in at odd hours of the night. We close early, we open late, so I think we’ve made a positive impact on the community and I’m pleased to have the support of the town leaders.”

Bender said that having a dispensary in the state capital presents an opportunity for MOS because of the ongoing legislation concerning cannabis. Currently, a bill in the General Assembly proposes to legalize the recreational use of the drug. “The lawmakers just have to come near this and see what a dispensary looks like,” Bender said. “It’s a chance for us to be a demonstration project for future legislation for cannabis in Illinois.”

MOS manager Dan Linn explained how medical cannabis combats ailments such as multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological disease which attacks brain and body cells. “Cannabis, which is compounds within the cannabinoid plant, is a nerve-protective property. MS is a condition in which the nerves have a delineation of the nerve fibers,” Linn said. “Think of MS like an extension cord that has the wires in it with the plastic casing on the inside. MS is like an erosion of that casing of the nerves, and cannabis can help service that nerve’s protective property.”

Linn added that cancer patients can benefit from medical cannabis. “With cancer, not only can cannabis be helpful in treating the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, but it can also help with cell apoptosis,” he said. “Cancer as a condition is just the cells that keep growing into a tumor, whereas consuming cannabis helps those cells die, when they are supposed to, therefore shrinking the tumor and prevent it from growing.”

Linn also commented on the opioid epidemic in Illinois and how medical cannabis could potentially reverse the trend. According to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control, Illinois had the third fastest-rising opioid death rate in the nation from 2014 to 2015. “One of the issues with the state’s opioid crisis is that people build up a tolerance towards it,” Linn said. “When they used to take two pills, it wouldn’t work anymore, so they would take four, eight and so on. We don’t see that same type of tolerance buildup with cannabis. You also don’t see the potential for an overdose like you do with the opioids. With cannabis, people are able to combat the pain, not deal with the same long-term negative side effects seen in prescription pills and tend to have a better quality of life with their friends and families.”

Alex Camp is an editorial intern for Illinois Times. He is pursuing his master’s degree at University of Illinois Springfield. Contact him at intern@illinoistimes.com.

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