FULTON, Illinois -
Workers are finishing up at The Dispensary in Fulton on Monday.
Placed in a new strip mall just off Route 84, it will serve Illinois-based medical marijuana patients.
"Right now, there is nervousness," said Dr. Ramon Pla.
That explains why Dr. Pla is opening Star Flower Clinic in Fulton.
He could well be the only doctor within 200 miles to recommend medical marijuana for patients.
And that's an application requirement to get it in Illinois.
"Let's face it," he said. "The federal government still has not approved this."
The clinic, which is only open on Saturday, is already swamped with appointments.
A stack of office files is reaching into July.
"Some of my colleagues are nervous about this," he continued. "That's why I'm doing it here in Fulton."
Since medical marijuana dispensaries are having a hard time getting doctors to participate, Dr. Pla is a very busy man these days.
He's in demand from Fulton to the Quad Cities and beyond.
"We're getting people coming up from Moline, and they're driving up here," he said. "I think it's a lot closer than driving into Chicago."
The Fulton dispensary is lucky to have a doctor nearby.
Eventually, it could address a problem found at other sites.
"I'm sure that will be helpful in the future," said Jeff Soenksen, general manager of The Dispensary. "Inspire some other physicians to get on board."
Dr. Pla, who is a board-certified internist, says that medical marijuana is a safer alternative to addictive pain-killers.
"A lot of our patients are coming here because when they tried traditional medicine, it gave them a bad outcome," he said.
While Dr. Pla is kind of a medical marijuana pioneer in Illinois, he thinks more doctors will eventually join him downstate.
"I'm very passionate about this," he concluded. "I think we're going to be helping a lot of people."
Star Flower Clinic is at 1008 4th Street in Fulton. Phone: (815) 208-7703
The Dispensary Open House takes place at 5 p.m., May 17, at 1801 16th Avenue in Fulton.