Quantum 9 CEO Michael Mayes was interviewed on CBS Chicago WBBM Newsradio saying that the first crop of medical marijuana could be ready for sale as early as the first quarter of 2015.
Illinois lawmakers will begin drafting rules regarding House Bill 1 on January 1. They will have 120 days to write the rules, including developing a registry of patients who are allowed to use marijuana and creating regulations governing medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries.
These three regulating bodies include The Illinois Department of Public Health, who will screen potential patient applications and issue identification cards for patients; the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, who will deal with licensing and regulating the businesses themselves; and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, who will determine the standards for growers, including safety and potency of the products.
These bodies will also work in tandem with the Illinois police department to conduct fingerprinting and background checks, and officers will learn to ask for medical marijuana registry cards if they suspect marijuana is being used. The state’s attorneys will prosecute as necessary. The feds have nothing to do with the process at all.
The new legislation permits authorized patients to use medical marijuana grown by an approved cultivation center and purchased from a registered dispensary. There are currently 33 specific qualifying conditions covered under state law, with the potential to add more in the future.
Growing could begin as soon as April 2014, depending on the complexity of the licensing applications and approvals. While businesses must wait for the official rules and regulations before applying, many can make educated guesses on what will be included based on the laws in other states. Businesses can begin gathering information on protocols and procedures such as a business plan, procedures for transportation, standard operating procedures, security plans, inventory control and testing.
House Bill 1 allows for 22 cultivation centers and 60 dispensaries in the state. Mr. Mayes said that it will take between $750,000 and $4 million to create a cultivation facility. Costs include building a greenhouse structure, lighting and security, in addition to licensing and manpower. The four-year pilot program begins January 1, which could leave businesses with just over two years to recoup any losses.
The location of the cultivation centers has been regulated to one per police district, but the dispensaries have no such parameters. As a result, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced a plan to limit the location of dispensaries in the city. Under the plan, dispensaries will be regulated to manufacturing districts, require special use permits and have parking space requirements. This proposal is in addition to state law.