In 2013, Illinois joined the ranks of states throughout the US where the medicinal use of cannabis is legal, and after a two year delay, approved patients may finally have safe, reliable access to medicine before the end of the year. Illinois medical cannabis program officials have announced, to the relief of many patients and families, that for the first time in the state’s history, legal medical sales are expected to begin in the next two weeks.
Final approval has only been given to four dispensaries in the metro Chicago area, but several more are expected to be licensed in the near future. The program’s director, Joseph Wright stated,
“A total of approximately 12 to 15 dispensaries should be registered by the end of November. Eight or 9 of those will be located in the Chicagoland area.”
Anticipating the first day of legal sales, some Illinois-grown cannabis has reportedly already been processed and packaged, but dispensaries are not permitted to sell anything until they have access to the state’s medical cannabis database. Access to the database is required in order for dispensaries to be able to verify each patients’ information and program approval status. Once access is granted, at least a few dispensaries will be ready to begin sales immediately.
Many of the medical cannabis patients in Illinois are expected to be inexperienced when it comes to using the plant, and because cannabis affects every person differently, many may have to go through a trial-and-error period before finding the best strains, amounts and methods of consumption to treat their condition. In an effort to reduce the trial-and-error period for patients and to share important information, one medical cannabis company in Illinois — Cresco Labs — has launched a $1 million campaign to help educate patients and non-patients alike.
While excitement levels are at an all-time high for medical cannabis patients and activists, there is also a darker underlying issue to be faced in Illinois. By the time medical cannabis is legally available for purchase, Illinois will be about halfway through the initial four-year pilot program. If Gov. Bruce Rauner does not reauthorize the Illinois cannabis program in 2017, it will expire and cease to exist. Earlier this year, Gov. Rauner vetoed expanding the program to include 11 more conditions.
As outgoing Illinois Governor Pat Quinn prepares to leave office, Mount Prospect resident Maria Rabadan has one more desperate request for the governor from her very ill son – ‘Issue the licenses that will allow medical marijuana to be grown and sold in Illinois.’
Maria’s 9-year-old son, Jancarlo, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome that has not been successfully treated with approved FDA medicines.
The family is extremely eager to try a cannabis derived treatment option (CBD) but Illinois lawmakers have delayed the medical marijuana program multiple times with no excuses for doing so.
“He has the power in his hands. We ask that he has compassion for the kids.”
Rabadan said towards the Governor. On Friday, Pat Quinn would not say if he would take action on the medical marijuana program before leaving office.
“I want to take every single day I have left. . . . I want to make sure I work as hard the last three days as I did the first three days,” Quinn stated.
While state politicians continue to bicker amongst each other, more and more Illinois families are coming out with their cries for hope.
On Monday Republican Governor Elect Bruce Rauner officially takes office, as the future remains unclear for the Illinois medical marijuana pilot program that expires in 2017.
Photo Credit: SunTimes
CHICAGO, IL — Without explanation, Governor Pat Quinn of the Illinois administration has reported that the state missed its end-of-the-year goal for selecting the businesses to receive permits for the beginning of the state’s medical marijuana pilot program.
The delay in the approval process will likely force cultivation facilities to break ground on new facilities during the coldest months of the year in Illinois. All patients who have paid the $100 fee for the medical marijuana cards will have to continue to wait for access to medicine, likely receiving their first opportunity in late summer 2015.
Marla Levi, 51, of Buffalo Grove suffers from multiple sclerosis symptoms, and is approved as a patient in the new program. Marla reported,
“I hate to have to do anything illegal. I believe it’s going to happen. In the meantime, I get it how I have to get it.”
The Illinois state agency responsible for the program has offered no explanation for the delays.
“We are strongly committed to bringing relief to thousands of people across the state, and ensuring Illinois is the national model for implementing medical cannabis,” Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold wrote in an email. “We are working hard to make sure this is done right.”
Most of the delays have been credited to the the lengthy and detailed review process of both businesses and patients attempting to join the program. Illinois State Representative Lou Lang, who sponsored the state’s medical marijuana bill, predicts the permits will be awarded before Governor elect Rauner’s inauguration on January 12.
“It would be very surprising, after all this work by the Quinn administration, to do it under the next governor who had indicated he was opposed to the program,” state Rep. Lou Lang said. “I just don’t see that happening.”
The Illinois Department of Agriculture received a total of 159 applications for cultivation centers, and is expected to award 21 licenses. One license will be awarded for each Illinois State Police district. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation received a total of 214 applications for medical marijuana dispensaries and expects to award up to 60 licenses.
Photo Credit: Trbimg.com