CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is marking its first year of medical marijuana sales as more states voted on Election Day to allow legal use of the drug.
Despite anecdotes of medical marijuana's positive influence on patients, broader data and randomized clinical trials of its use remain very limited, the Chicago Tribune
Officials said there have been very few overt problems with the program since the first dispensaries opened in Illinois on Nov. 9, 2015. Police said they haven't seen any significant complications and that no patients have had their licenses rescinded for using the drug illegally.
Opponents of the medical marijuana program continue to raise concerns about negative effects, harm from smoking, use by minors and increasing traffic crashes.
"It sends a message to our young people that there's not a problem with this drug and it's perfectly safe," said Dr. Kirk Moberg, medical director of the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery in Peoria.
Another issue that came up in Illinois' inaugural year was driving while high.
This year fatal car crashes involving medical marijuana doubled in Washington from 2013 to 2014 after it legalized recreational marijuana, AAA reported.
But Feliza Castro, founder of The Healing Clinic in Chicago, said she has seen many severely debilitated patients get the help they need. She also noticed the state has sped up the process for approval.
"Business has been good," she said. "We hope it will open up."
About 12,000 medical marijuana patients have spent about $28 million on the program.