Illinois approved a pilot medical marijuana program in 2013. The program started in 2014 with one caveat – there was no actual medical marijuana to legally obtain. Safe access to medical marijuana for patients requires licenses being issued to growers and distributors, as patients can’t grow their own medical marijuana in Illinois. As of this post, there have been no licenses issued, and there are no immediate plans by the State of Illinois to do so.
The task to issue licenses was up to outgoing Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who announced that there will be no licenses issued until the next Governor takes office. Incoming Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner stated during his campaign that he would have vetoed the medical marijuana bill, which doesn’t exactly sound encouraging. The problems plaguing Illinois’ medical marijuana program implementation have brought some critical comments from the program’s original sponsor, Illinois Representative Lou Lang. Per the State Journal-Register:
Despite departing Gov. Pat Quinn declining to award licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana, Rep. Lou Lang said he’s still holding out hope for Illinois’ program.
The Democrat from Skokie said he was upset Quinn decided to neglect the issue in recent weeks, particularly because Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, said during the campaign he likely would have vetoed the medical marijuana bill passed last year.
Lang said Quinn’s refusal to award licenses is a catastrophic blow to the four-year pilot initiative.
“This single failure may doom the medical cannabis program,” Lang said at a Capitol news conference Tuesday. “This single failure said to all of those folks that made applications to be cultivators or dispensary owners that we took your $5 million (in fees), but we’ll get to you when we feel like it.”
The patients of Illinois deserve safe access. Denying their safe access for what can only be described as political purposes is unacceptable. This foot dragging is also unacceptable for those that have paid application fees. They have received no answers to their questions, and there is the looming possibility that they will be out the money they have spent this far entirely. People have paid more than just application fees, they have also paid for research, which isn’t cheap. One representative that I met with about a month ago told me that he and a group of investors had spent roughly one million dollars during the process of trying to get licenses to grow medical marijuana in Illinois. It would be a shame if that were all for not.