Illinois is very close to becoming the latest state to legalize marijuana for medical use. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act passed the Illinois House of Representatives last month. Last week, the Bill passed the Illinois Senate Executive Committee. The Bill will be back before the full Senate on May 14, 2013. (Updates HERE.)
If this Bill becomes law, a whole new industry will emerge overnight. There is a tremendous amount of money at stake. No one is talking about big business's involvement however. The media reports always seem to focus on the cannabis users. Do the patients have legitimate medical issues? Does the cannabis provide legitimate medical relief? Those media reports bore me. I could not care less whether a licensed user of medical cannabis really has a legitimate medical ailment or whether his "symptoms" were an elaborate ruse to obtain a prescription. I am much more interested in the cannabis providers. They're the ones who really stand to gain or lose from this deal. For instance, who is going to grow it? Who is going to sell it? And, most importantly, do those people or companies need a lawyer? (Insert winky-faced emoticon here.)
I've spent the last several days skimming the 211-page Bill. The Bill provides for up to 22 cultivation centers throughout the state. The cultivation centers will be governed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The Bill also provides for 60 dispensing organizations to be governed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. As you can imagine, the application process to be become a licensed cultivation center or dispensing organization is fraught with red tape. For those companies lucky enough to obtain one of the coveted licenses, the renewal and yearly compliance hurdles will be significant. They're going to need teams of good lawyers.
There are plenty of other interesting tidbits in the Bill. For example, the Bill deals with employment and housing discrimination of licensed medical cannabis users, whether the fact that someone is a licensed medical cannabis user can be used against him or her in a child custody hearing (it can't), how licensed medical cannabis will affect the DUI laws, when and where licensed medical cannabis users can "administer their cannabis," etc.
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