Yesterday was incredible, and we want to thank everyone that came out to mark the beginning of legal medical cannabis in Illinois!

Several news articles did a great job of covering the launch putting the focus of the program where it belongs: on the patients and their path to easing their symptoms.

The Associated Press filed the first story focusing on Maggie Chatterton.

25-year-old homemaker in central Illinois, who drove with her husband and two children 20 miles to the Salveo Health & Wellness dispensary in Canton where doors opened around 9:30 a.m.

Chatterton is emblematic of how Americans are rethinking marijuana. A gardener and beekeeper who sells her wares at farmers markets, she’s concerned about side effects of prescription drugs and believes cannabis is safer. She said she taught her 4-year-old son it’s a natural medicine.

As the day when on other outlets published their coverage, many of them focusing on Tim Stallings and Martha Mercer who are possibly the first two patients to legally purchase medical cannabis in the state.

Central Illinois Proud‘s coverage:

“The day I got my medical marijuana license, my days of being a criminal are over,” Timothy Stallings, a patient, said.

He became one of the first people in the state of Illinois to make the purchase Monday. He has multiple sclerosis and has tried every narcotic you can think of. “I was on oxycotton, oxycodone, norco.”

But someone new to the idea of cannabis is Martha Mercer of Canton, who is suffering from fibromyalgia.

“I get a headache from pain pills. I get a horrible headache. I got to hurt bad enough to go through the headache,” she said.

“I’ll take this approach just like I do any new prescription medicine. Usually I put my oldest daughter on alert. Tell her what I’m taking,” she said.

From The WEEK:

Stallings has multiple sclerosis and he was one of the first customers to buy cannabis at the Canton dispensary.

Stallings used to be on 15 different drugs to help his pain, but for the past 12 years he’s been using marijuana to feel better.

“If I don’t have cannabis my limbs want to tighten up and I just want to curl up into the fetal position, and I’m just miserable all the time,” said Stallings. “One puff and I can stand up and move around. Not the greatest but at least I can manage.”

While some people have been using marijuana illegally to cope with medical conditions for years, others are now testing the waters.

“A gauntlet of emotions from excitement to confusion to nerves to excitement,” said Martha Mercer of Canton. “I’m really hoping that this will wake me up, perk me up, make me move and not be so stiff, ease pain to get through the day.”

The Peoria Journal Star covered Martha and Tim, but also several other patients in its in-depth article:

Stallings has used a whole host of heavy narcotics, none of which helped long-term. For the former lineman and train conductor, the side effects of the narcotics were worse than the initial symptoms.

“I found so much relief” using marijuana, he said. “I used cannabis to withdraw from narcotics.”

“(The pain is) an 8 when I don’t have (marijuana) and it’s a sweet 2 when I do,” Stallings said. “It’s medicine. I want the stigma gone. … My days of being a criminal are over.”

Mercer agreed that one of the big things she had to get over before researching medical marijuana was the stigma.

“I’ve tried a gauntlet of medicine,” she said. “I usually just deal with the pain. That’s no quality of life.”

Her research and involvement with the Medical Cannabis Outreach has shown Mercer that the list of approved conditions needs to be expanded.

“Why doesn’t everybody have access to it?” she said of medical marijuana. “PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has to be on that list.

“Our veterans should not be made criminals; victims should not be made criminals.”

Sarah Bayer of Toulon is one of the patients who chose to travel to Canton for her medical marijuana.

“I have exhausted the pain medication,” she said. “I had a fentanyl patch and it didn’t even help (the pain). This is the only thing left that will relax the joints and inflammation.

One of the patients waiting inside Salveo shortly after opening Monday was Raul Galindo of Princeville, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007.

“I never knew what MS was before I was diagnosed,” he said.

His disease causes frequent numbness in his left hand and leg, and the numbness sometimes travels up into his face.

To treat his MS, he has tried injections on a daily and twice-daily basis, as well as taking pills on a daily and twice-daily basis. His current medication costs $5,000 a month.

We served 85 patients on the first day of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, and have so many more to reach, and we will continue to do our very best to make sure each patient we see is able to get the medicine they need.