PEORIA — Recreational marijuana users will likely be able to legally purchase the drug at The Shoppes at Grand Prairie in the not-so-distant future.
“We are looking in the Grand Prairie region now, to expand our adult use there,” said Ron DiGiacomo, founder and vice president of operations for Trinity Compassionate Care Centers, the company that owns the medical marijuana dispensary at 3125 N. University St.
Trinity is planning to take full advantage of the tenets of House Bill 1438 which, if signed by Gov. JB Pritzker, will make it legal for adults to use marijuana recreationally next year. The bill allows Illinois’ 55 existing medical dispensaries the first opportunity for recreational licenses. In addition, dispensaries can also obtain a license to open a second facility for recreational sales.
“We’re undergoing some pretty extensive expansion plans,” said DiGiacomo during a phone interview last week. “And we’re increasing employees by 10 to 12 people.”
Trinity is also hoping to expand the 2,700 square-foot University Street facility.
“We’re working with the landlord. We want to renovate to provide for better patient flow for adult use. Ultimately we will have one location with medical and adult use, and the other with just adult use,” said DiGiacomo.
The medical marijuana dispensary in East Peoria, NuMed East Peoria, declined to comment about possible expansion plans, and the Canton dispensary, Salveo Health & Wellness Dispensary, didn’t respond to a voicemail message.
Trinity Compassionate Care Centers has always provided a lot of education to their medical clients, and will continue the practice for recreational users, DiGiacomo said.
“While we are going to jump on board with adult use, we are still going to stay patient-centric in our education of the medical benefits,” he said.
Though recreational users may not be as interested in the potential medical benefits of marijuana, Trinity will continue the education in an effort to nip potential problems in the bud. DiGiacomo wants to see the legalization of recreational marijuana succeed in Peoria with a minimum of problems for the community. Trinity’s educational efforts include the development of special software where patients input their symptoms and conditions into the computer.
“Then you come into the shop and review the cannabinoid profiles that will help your conditions,” he said. “We help match the cannabinoid to your symptoms. If someone says ‘I can’t sleep anymore,’ we can say ‘OK, here’s the cannabinoid that may help with that.’”
The software is based on anecdotal research from overseas, since domestic research has been limited by the fact that the drug has been illegal for many years. DiGiacomo is looking forward to seeing more research happening in the U.S. after the drug becomes legal.
DiGiacomo predicts that recreational sales won’t be the only place where Trinity will see growth next year. A second piece of legislation, Senate Bill 2023, will expand the list to 54 medical conditions qualifying a person for a medical marijuana card, including chronic pain, migraines, neuropathy and irritable-bowel syndrome. SB 2023 will also make it easier for patients to get their medical cards, since nurse practitioners and physician assistants — not just doctors — will be able to certify patients.
In an effort to make the expansion of legal marijuana usage in Peoria a success, Trinity plans on hosting an informational event for area law enforcement and community leaders late this summer, said DiGiacomo.
“We want to educate them as well,” he said. “We plan to do a luncheon where we will do a presentation, talk about the bill and what’s coming.”
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.