Illinois medical marijuana patients now number 2,600

CHICAGO (AP) — The number of patients approved to use medical marijuana has been climbing, but slowly. Illinois sent about 100 approval letters in June to patients who qualify for the program.

The Illinois Department of Public Health released the update Wednesday. The department has issued about 2,600 approval letters to qualifying marijuana patients since September.

The department says about 22,600 people have started the patient application process on the program’s website. Of those, about 3,200 have submitted a complete application, about 100 more than last month.

Business owners are watching the numbers with trepidation. The numbers so far fall short of the “tens of thousands” of patients the program’s former coordinator hoped would enroll in the first year.

Qualifying patients pay an annual fee of $100 and need a doctor’s written certification.