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Illinois Needs To Expand Its Medical Marijuana Program

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(via firedoglake.com)

I have been following Illinois’ medical marijuana program woes since the beginning. After a very hard fought battle to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois, a lot of activists took a moment to congratulate each other on the victory. Around that same time, companies were eyeing Illinois’ soon to be established medical marijuana industry hoping to cash in. Reps from these companies would throw around outlandish numbers, claiming that Illinois would be one of the biggest profit opportunities in the industry almost overnight. Boy were they in for a rude awakening.

I met a few people from some of these companies, and they would all argue with me until they were blue in the face about how big Illinois’ medical marijuana program would be, and how that would lead to unparalleled business opportunities. I told them over and over that as the Illinois medical marijuana law was written, there wouldn’t be that many patients. Certainly not enough to support an industry with almost two dozen industrial growing companies. But they didn’t listen, which seems to always be the case with people with too much money to know what they should actually do with it. The patient statistics have been updated in Illinois, and the numbers have slowed to a crawl. Per Marijuana Business Daily:

Illinois has released the latest tally of approved medical marijuana patients in the state, and the figure is a bit disheartening for companies awarded licenses to grow, process and sell medical cannabis.

While the number of patients certified to purchase MMJ has climbed to 2,500 – up from 2,000 a few months ago – the pace of approvals has slowed.

Illinois sent out roughly 200 approval letters in May, down from 300 in April and 400 in March, according to the Associated Press, citing Illinois government data. The number of patients who actually applied for MMJ cards in May improved only slightly month-over-month.

Last I heard, there were still only 18 licensed growers for Illinois, with three more that are yet to be named. When all 21 have been announced and are in operation, and if current numbers stayed the same, each industrial grower would only be serving a little over 100 patients on average. To put that into perspective, Oregon has roughly 1/4 of the citizens that Illinois does, but roughly 28 times as many patients. Illinois needs to expand its program. The current list of qualifying conditions is way too low, and hurts patients and will always hamper the growth of the industry in Illinois until things change.

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