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MARION — The first medical marijuana dispensary registered in Illinois hosted a ribbon cutting Tuesday to signify it is ready for business.

One problem: There is no product to sell.

Harbory dispensary Co-Owner Michele Koo said the dispensary is expecting to receive product in November.

The fact there isn’t product didn’t stop a dual celebration from the Marion and Carbondale Chambers of Commerce announcing the dispensary’s opening.

Ashley Gott, Marion Chamber of Commerce chairman, said the chamber welcomes all businesses. He said this particular one could help several people.

“From the medical aspects, there are some great advantages for individuals that need this kind of product and I think it can be very beneficial from that aspect,” Gott said. “We welcome them and hope they stay in the community for a very long time.”

Carbondale Chamber President Steve Falat said he is hopeful the state will continue to help patients get the comfort they need.

Marion Mayor Bob Butler said expanding businesses in Marion is important. But, more importantly, it means more jobs for the region.

“This is something that we should accept and move forward,” Butler said. “This is a regulated business and everything is as it should be.”

Koo said Harbory is a family business and the journey to open a medical marijuana dispensary is a personal story. She said her mother was very ill while living in California, where medical marijuana was legal. However, her physician would not prescribe medical marijuana.

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She said this is the same story that can be heard from several families of patients that could benefit.

“They saw family members go from living a vibrant lifestyle, and then they watched them deteriorate,” she said. “They could of have had their last days of life improved so significantly.”

Koo said she wants bring the medical model of cannabis that is viewed by some medical professionals as fringe to the forefront.

“We want so much to bring a better quality of life for those that traditional medicine hasn’t worked,” she said. “We feel this is a very viable option, and we want to do it safely.”

Collen Marsinkel of Benton attended the ribbon cutting to learn more about the process of registering to use medical cannabis. She has one of the qualifying conditions — fibromyalgia.

“The pain medication doesn’t take away the pain. It is just a band aid treatment,” she said. “When you live with pain every day, it is an awful feeling. If you have already taken your pain medication, and you are still in pain, then you just out of luck until the next time you can take medication.”

The dispensary is planning to host educational meetings so potential patients can learn about the medicine and how to register. The plan is to take requests about which ancillary services to provide, such as acupuncture or massage therapy.

“We want to be able to provide those services based on the needs of our patient population,” Koo said. “Because really is all about the patient.”

The dispensary is at 8195 Express Drive. The dispensary will be open from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday.

For more information, call 618-969-8217 or visit www.harbory.us.com.

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dustin.duncan@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

on twitter: @zd2000

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