While a handful of states have enacted medical marijuana laws, Illinois’ ability to move from legalization to access has been stalled because of regulations involving business licenses. Not one business is able to sell because state officials missed their self-imposed deadline to award licenses that would allow businesses to grow and sell medical marijuana.
Since September, an estimated 11,000 citizens have started their applications and around 600 people have received approval as of December 4, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Among the most frequent debilitating medical conditions that are being certified include cancer, severe fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.
“It seems the state is more concerned with making sure this medical program is being done in, what they consider to be, the right way,” Dan Linn, the executive director of Illinois NORML, a marijuana advocacy group told the Chicago Sun Times. “But in that same notion, this is supposed to help sick people who are struggling to stay alive, and that sense of urgency by the state of Illinois is not there.”
Despite the frustration, the delay is considered normal in comparison to other states that have recently passed similar legislation. Massachusetts is also experiencing a delay in handing out licenses for dispensaries even though voters overwhelmingly approved it two years ago. Some critics in that state have indicated there is very little guidance in that law.
The outgoing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has not confirmed whether he will be able to award licenses before he leaves office on January 12. Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has opposed marijuana legislation in the past.
“That will continue until the job is done,” Quinn said. “It is a complicated law, and we’re working on it as best we can.”
Up to 21 cultivation centers are expected to open throughout the state, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Without the cultivation centers, it’s unlikely anyone will be able to access marijuana.