With the inevitable legalization of marijuana in Illinois, proponents eagerly await what could well be the most significant development in the field of medical cannabis. Lawmakers in the state approved regulations that would govern the use, cultivation, and sale of marijuana. Although the law would come into effect on January 1, 2015, there are concerns this early on that cannabis supplies would be insufficient to meet the demand. This was reported by Derrick Blakley of CBS 2.
The approval for the medical use of cannabis was granted by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. According to Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the law passed by the committee was the safest medical marijuana law in the United States.
As part of the new laws, medical marijuana patients will be allowed to apply for licenses in late 2014. Patients with last names beginning with the letters “A” to “L” will be able apply for their medical marijuana licenses by September. Those whose last names begin with the letters “N” to “Z” may apply for their licenses beginning in November. The licenses will be made available by the public health department upon the presentation of a letter of recommendation from a doctor.
To date, 21 companies have already expressed their intention to grow marijuana for the state’s medical marijuana market. One of these companies is Grand Prairie Farms, which proposes the use of large indoor spaces for the cultivation of marijuana. Speaking on behalf of the company, Bryan Wilmer disclosed the plan to allot 190 thousand square feet solely for the growing of medical marijuana. Before the planned grow project can get started however, Grand Prairie Farms and all other growers will first have to secure the appropriate licenses.
The process of actually obtaining the licenses to grow marijuana may not come so quickly either. Some observers in fact expect the process to take several months. Ali Nagrib of NORML’s Illinois chapter also said that even more time will be required for actually harvesting the marijuana after the licenses have been granted. Nagrib expects a period of anywhere from 4 to 6 months from the time the licenses are issued to when growers can actually make their produce available. This means that although medical marijuana will be legal in Illinois by January 1, patients may have to wait until well into the middle of next year in order to actually get their hands on their medication.
Even some government officials agree with this assessment. Speaking for the Illinois Department of Public Health, Bob Morgan said that “at least a few months” will be needed before applicants will actually be able to get their growing operations running. Morgan said that one of the main reasons for this is the difficulty arising from providing a product that currently isn’t being cultivated legally.
With the impending legalization of marijuana in the state, patients suffering from any of the 39 designated medical condition for which cannabis is legally prescribed will finally have access to their chosen medication. The state itself will benefit considerably from legalization, with as much $900 million in revenues expected in the first year alone.