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.
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