Illinois Cannabis: Marijuana Plants in the Ground

Medical marijuana and illinoisQualifying patients in Illinois, currently numbering approximately 2,800, could be buying oil-based marijuana prescriptions under the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program as soon as October 2015. It will take a bit longer for the raw cannabis plant, for smoking, to be on shelves because the flowers must be dried and cured. (Oil-based products can skip the drying stage.) Several cultivation centers in Illinois now have marijuana plants growing and at least one dispensary is ready for operation.

The first cultivation center, located in Albion, IL, received approval from the Illinois Department of Agriculture on July 10 and started growing marijuana plants on July 13. According to information released by the Department on August 21, six more cultivation centers received approval to start growing plants since the middle of July. Eleven more cultivation-center licensees have received initial approval, but have not yet received a green light to commence operations.

If product had been available, qualifying patients could have had their first prescriptions filled on August 25, 2015. On that date, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced that the first dispensary had completed the inspection process and was given the first license to open for business. This dispensary calls itself Harbory and is located in Marion, IL. The Department’s website will list subsequent dispensaries that complete the inspection process and receive licenses to commence operations on a rolling basis.

To follow-up on our May report, Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board OK’s New Qualifying Conditions, the Illinois Department of Health continues to consider new qualifying conditions for the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program. Illinois residents had between July 1 and July 31 to submit petitions with the Department for adding new debilitating medical conditions. This period for petitioning the Department is the first step in this process. Public hearings with then be held and the conditions recommended by the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board will then need to be approved by the director of the Department of Health.

And finally, the Illinois Department of Public Health has now issued approximately 2,800 approval letters to qualifying patients. According to the Department’s website, approximately 23,700 people have started the online application and of those, approximately 3,500 have submitted a complete application. It is worth pointing out that ten minors have had their applications approved.  This would not have been possible under the law initially adopted by the Illinois Legislature.

The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in Illinois continues to move forward, with the most recent developments perhaps bringing more optimism than at any time since the program’s inception. The number of qualifying patients is still too low to support a profitable market, but a spike in the number of applicants can be expected once product is available for purchase.

For more information on what is going on with Illinois cannabis and on what its medical cannabis regime is going to look like, we urge you to go here and start reading.