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Dispensary 33 Serves First Medical Marijuana Patients Wednesday

By Josh McGhee | December 9, 2015 1:04pm | Updated on December 9, 2015 2:54pm
 Steve Torres, 46, of Alsip, was the first patient to purchase medical marijuana in Chicago.
Steve Torres, 46, of Alsip, was the first patient to purchase medical marijuana in Chicago.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — Steve Torres used to take a host of pain pills to treat his multiple sclerosis, but Wednesday night he'll treat his pain with a strain of marijuana called Girl Scout Cookies.

Torres, 46, of Alsip, was the first medical marijuana patient served at Dispensary 33, 5001 N. Clark St., when it opened its doors Wednesday — becoming the first dispensary in Chicago. He rolled out of the dispensary with a quarter ounce of the Girl Scout Cookie strain and an eighth of Blue Dream, he said.

"It's exciting it really is. It's like a whole new chapter developing. I feel all these terrible side effects from the medications I do take, but now I'm good," he said after leaving the dispensary.

The strains were recommended by one of the dispensary's budtenders, who used a list of his symptoms to recommend the perfect strains, but the treatment is still "trial and error," Torres said.

"It was just a conversation I had with the budtender. I filled out a ton of paper work beforehand and this is what he recommended," said Torres, adding he simply Googled the strain to do his research before purchasing the product.


Ali Nagib (l.) and Steve Torres outside Dispensary 33 Wednesday. [DNAinfo/Josh McGhee]

Waiting to greet Torres was Ali Nagib, an activist with the National Organization for the reform of Marijuana Laws and Andersonville resident, who lobbied around his neighborhood and Springfield for marijuana reform.

"It's pretty exciting. It's been almost a month since the first business opened in Illinois. Now, to see this happen in my neighborhood and the city I love is rewarding," he said.

"This neighborhood has been really accepting" of the dispensary, Nagib said, pointing to Ald. Ameya Pawar's approach of being "generally supportive of the issue" but allowing neighbors to make the decision themselves about the dispensary, he said.

Homer Buchanan, of Edgewater, suffers from insomnia and arthritis among a list of conditions that have left him on prescription pain killers for the last 20 years. Last year, he began taking Ativan, which is also used to treat anxiety with depression and requires you see a doctor every time you need a refill, he said.

"Now, I rather deal with the insomnia than the pain killers. Who wants to take Ativan to go to sleep?" he said.

Wednesday, he'll treat his insomnia with whichever strain the dispensary recommends.

"It's a real exciting feeling. It's a good time to be in Chicago. I think it's well overdue," Buchanan said.

His partner George Euring was excited to have the medication so close to their neighborhood. Before Dispensary 33 opened, Buchanan was registered at a dispensary in Evanston, but Buchanan switched dispensaries Tuesday, an easy process that just required an email to Springfield and approval, he said.

"Overall, this is going to be a good thing for people like this in pain," Euring said as a Pace van dropped off a man in a wheelchair at the dispensary. "Hopefully, this can do something to alleviate the pain."

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