The switch from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, to his successor Bruce Rauner, has caused the licensing of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries to get lost in the shuffle.
While in office, Quinn made lists of the dispensaries that would receive medical marijuana licenses. The problem is Quinn’s administration inexplicably delayed the actual issuing of these licenses. He promised to issue the licenses by the end of 2014, but let his constituents down when he left office with the issue unresolved.
What makes this such a big issue is Quinn publicly stated the reason he didn’t issue the licenses was because the evaluation agencies didn’t finish the application process. Leaked emails showed there was more to the story.
Emails between people within the administration show the agencies were ready to go with a list of recipients for 18 cultivation licenses and 56 retail licenses. What’s odd is that Quinn’s administration cut the list down from 18 to 12 potential recipients, in one of the leaked emails.
One disturbing piece of information in these emails is the fact that political favoritism seems to have played a part in the final decision process. One example cited by the Associate Press, shows that a former staff member of Quinn’s administration was hired by an applicant as a lobbyist, and this applicant was mysteriously disqualified, without explanation, even though they met all of the score requirements.
This has caused an uproar on the other side of the coin. Medical marijuana advocates are outraged by the delay. They blame selfish image management as one of the main reasons Quinn didn’t follow through with his promises. It makes sense, as being a governor that enacts medical marijuana policy is a bold political move. This is a big issue for patients to be worried about. Every politician is image-conscious, so what is going to make the Republican Bruce Rauner want to risk alienating himself from a segment of his party by enacting his predecessor’s policy. With that being said, it is a selfish move which has severe consequences on patients.
Most of these advocates are potential patients or know potential patients, so they speak from first hand experience on how this delay is affecting the citizens of Illinois. Patients with serious illnesses like cancer and AIDS are being denied supplemental treatment which is, in most cases, the only thing that makes their symptoms and pharmaceutical-caused side effects manageable. These patients are forced to continue seeking medical marijuana on the black market, putting themselves at risk for the sake of a politician’s image.
Rauner’s administration has said Quinn’s policy would need a comprehensive review until any of the selected applicants are issued licenses. This vague answer has potential patients realizing the sobering reality that dispensaries still may be months away. The beginning of Rauner’s term is staged to be quite interesting, with the medical marijuana issue serving as a defining moment for potential re-election.