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Medical Marijuana Users Frustrated By Lower Supply, Rising Prices In Illinois

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Is Illinois' pot supply going up in smoke?

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole on Wednesday looked into a shortage at the state's legal dispensaries – and what that means for legal recreational marijuana come Jan. 1, 2020.

Legal recreational use may cut into the states marijuana supply. But months in advance, medical users are already noticing a strain.

"The amounts are getting smaller and the price is going up," said Paul Jochujm of Crystal Lake.

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Paul Jochum is a stay-at-home dad whose severe physical pain is relieved with cannabis.

"This is gone - entirely gone for over 8 months," Jochum said as he held up an empty plastic jar. "I haven't been able to find a single ounce of flower at all."

A larger one-ounce container lasts Jochum almost two weeks. But now, he is buying smaller packages at a higher price.

A large container like the empty one Jochum held up had cost $250. Jochum said the same supply would now cost over $400.

"There were dozens of options in the summertime," said medical cannabis consultant Kalee Hooghkirk of Full Spektrum Services. "We want to know what happened."

Hooghkirk has noticed the change too.

She showed us product lists from several dispensaries. Typical was a drop from dozens of product options to just three, and price increases included a jump from $50 to $60 for a gram of cannabis concentrate.

"We've been promised for the past four years that prices would go down and availability would go up, and unfortunately, we're seeing the exact opposite," Hooghkirk said.

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The Cannabis Association of Illinois, a trade group, explains it this way – over the past year, it's become easier to qualify for medicinal marijuana, and the list of accepted medical conditions has grown. It's raised the pool of marijuana patients from roughly 20,000 to more than 80,000.

With state approval needed to grow more supply, the industry is struggling to meet demand – and that doesn't even include the rush of new customers expected when recreational use begins.

"If I were to use my allotment over 14 days, I would need to be a very rich individual," Jochum said.

Grow houses are required to reserve a 30-day supply for patients, but prices are left to the free market. And Jochum said $400 for an ounce of pain relief is hard to come by.

RELATED: Which States Are Riding The Recreational Marijuana Wave?

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