WICKER PARK — With Gov. Pat Quinn signing into law a measure allowing medical marijuana in Illinois, a sign in an Ashland Avenue strip mall has gone up advertising the opening of what's being described as a "medical marijuana clinic."
The office at 1723 N. Ashland Ave. in Wicker Park — next to two other medical offices — has been vacant for a number of years, neighbors said.
Under Illinois law, such clinics will not be able to dispense marijuana, but patients can get prescriptions for pot from a doctor there. Those applicants OK'd by the state will be able to use the prescriptions at a marijuana dispensary. The locations of the 60 dispensaries allowed by the new law haven't been revealed.
Jacobi said Wicker Park was chosen because it was close to the Kennedy Expressway and near her clinic partner, Dr. Brian Murray, who owns Big Rapids Surgery.
Jacobi, a former registered nurse who plans to divide her time between Michigan and Wicker Park, said she met Murray in 2011 and they are both "really excited" about the clinic, which hopes to see its first patients next week.
Though the clinic in Michigan saw about 100 patients per month, Jacobi said she "has no idea" how many patients the Wicker Park clinic will serve and will see here how people respond to it.
When asked about potential objections from the community or neighbors, Jacobi said she is not concerned because Murray's office "does not touch [marijuana], grow it, or sell it."
Murray, who is licensed to practice medicine in Michigan and Illinois, offers other services such as vascular surgery to minimize varicose veins, Jacobi said. Murray can also administer steroid shots for knee pain and can provide alternative medicine therapies for migraines.
Jacobi described her clinic as a "first step" in the process. While any medical doctor can prescribe medical marijuana, patients, under Illinois law, need to have an "existing relationship" with the physician.
The specialized clinic, Jacobi said, would provide potential patients the opportunity to establish a relationship before the law kicks in on Jan. 1, 2014.
A man who answered the phone at the number listed for mall rentals said the new tenant has assured him that the clinic will not exclusively deal with marijuana and will offer other medical services.
The clinic's neighbors are an occupational therapist and an MRI clinic operated by the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, the latter of which plans to move out of the strip mall at the end of September. Employees at both locations expressed no opposition to the pot clinic.
In the parking lot, William Joney, 48, an unemployed machinist was waiting for a friend to finish physical therapy. The South Side resident saw the sign in the planned marijuana clinic remarked, "If people really need it for pain or health, that's fine."
"But if it's an easy way to get high, I have a problem with it," Joney said.
Jacobi says she wants to erect a billboard on the side of the building that faces the Kennedy Expressway.
The sign, she said, will read: "Hello, I'm Illinois Medical Marijuana."