Medical marijuana has been a hot topic of discussion over the past few years, and some states--such as Colorado and Washington--have even legalized the use of recreational marijuana.

With this trend rapidly gaining favor, the Quad Cities' first-ever medical marijuana dispensary is scheduled to open this winter.

Matt Stern, co-owner of Milan-based Stern Beverage Inc., said crews broke ground last month on his pot shop, Nature’s Treatment of Illinois Inc., located just west of his Budweiser distribution facility.

"We had the land there, so it worked out," said Stern, who originally planned to build in Rock Island. "And now I'll only have to walk 50 yards back and forth between our two buildings."

Less than seven miles west of Stern's dispensary, the Chicago-based medical pot company Green Thumb Industries, or GTI, has built its base to grow the drug in southwest Rock Island. Neither company can distribute or sell the product until the state gives them the green light, however.

Earlier this year, the state awarded Stern a business license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary, which he now hopes to open by December. []

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