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Proposed medical marijuana monopoly wreaking havoc on legalization bill

Friday, Nov 30, 2012

* From the AP earlier this week

Illinois State Rep. Lou Lang has decided not to call his medical marijuana legislation until next week.

The Skokie Democrat told The Associated Press Wednesday he’s still not certain he has the 60 votes he needs for passage.

He says he has most of the necessary votes but there are “a whole bunch of people who are wavering.” He will continue talking to them over the weekend and try again in the Legislature’s second week of its fall session.

* I did a bit more checking and found something quite unusual had happened. Fox Chicago then followed up

Supporters of medical marijuana are blaming their latest setback in the State Capitol on two North Suburban businessmen. The pair plans to become Illinois’ largest suppliers of medical marijuana and some claim their quiet backroom maneuvering has blocked passage of a bill to legalize it. […]

Libertyville businessman Jim Merlo told FOX 32 News that his company, “Medponics,” has hired powerful lobbyists in Springfield only because he wants to ensure that when it’s legalized here, medical marijuana is grown and delivered safely to those who need it. Others fear Medponics wants to corner the market. […]

House Republican Leader Tom Cross is a supporter of medical marijuana. He wants to rewrite the current bill after hearing from two top lobbyists about the Medponic system.

“If somebody got stopped by the police, and said, ‘Oh, I’m using — this is medical marijuana,’ you could actually test it and find out whether it was true medical marijuana grown here at one of the facilities, or whether it was not in fact medical marijuana,” explains Cross.

The current legislation sponsored by Skokie Democrat Lou Lang would grant licenses to as many as 59 marijuana growers across the state. Supporters claim that having dozens of small growers, instead of one or a handful of very large pot producers, would avoid the clashes with federal agents that have occurred in other states.

“Every time that somebody has tried to do one of these large growing operations, the federal government has come in and has threatened either the landlords and the property owners with not only arrest but also asset forfeiture,” says Dann Linn, the Executive Director for Illinois NORML.

One of those two top lobbyists used to be Cross’ chief of staff. And I have no idea what Cross is talking about when he says you could “actually test” the weed to see if it was grown at one of Medponic’s facilities.

And considering that US Attorneys throughout the nation have been busting far smaller growing operations, I can’t see how the heck Medponics thinks it can get away with doing this. And if it’s shut down, the entire medical marijuana infrastructure in the state would go down with it.

Life in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


38 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:00 am:

    Well plants have DNA, you could have specific ’strands’ or varieties as it were tested and logged.

    But is the risk they are trying to deal with the risk you are allowed to have medical MJ but are not using medical MJ? Not sure what the risk is of that.


  2. - Anon - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    This would be impossible for police to uphold. How is the officer on the street going to by able to test cannabis to see where it was grown? The current field test kits only test for the presence of THC. Genetic testing of plants would be too expensive and time consuming. The whole premise is unworkable.


  3. - Ahoy! - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:04 am:

    So there are legislators like Tom Cross who are holding up a piece of legislation that could bring about relief to the suffering because his Former Chief of Staff wants to create a monopoly for a certain business.

    I thought Tom Cross was for a free market and not government created monopolies.


  4. - dupage dan - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    =And if it’s shut down, the entire medical marijuana infrastructure in the state would go down with it=

    Oh, the horror!

    It looks like it may require a large costly state infrastructure to deal with this issue. So much for the pot tax dividend everyone was touting. (snark)


  5. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:10 am:

    More completely transparent and goofy hypocrisy from politicians who would rather help out buddies than assist truly ill people in our society.


  6. - On the real - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:20 am:

    So the leader of the House GOP wants to pick who will sell weed in Illinois? Didn’t the Repubs complain about Obama picking “winners and losers”?


  7. - w/Open Eyes - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    Smoke Signals….A new Book by Marvin Lee. A Must Read for both sides.


  8. - Wensicia - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    Cross — I’m the pusher, man.


  9. - joey - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    As with all, it comes down to the all mighty buck. People are suffering waiting to get relief with the passage of a resonable law. Big business is rearing its ugly head to take over and make money. Many small dedicated growers each paying a fee and being regulated seens resonable. Illinois law makers where is your compassion?


  10. - anon - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    Any idesa how many people NEED this law? Any idea how many people have been arrested for possession when they were clearly using it for medicinal purposes?


  11. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    Yes I have to agree, it is “reeking” havoc.


  12. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    ===Others fear Medponics wants to corner the market.===

    Greed just might kill this bill.

    Reefer sadness.


  13. - muon - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    Anon 10:01 - a better field test might be difficult, but you wouldn’t necessarily need to go as far as DNA. Different strains of cannabis have different proportions of active ingredients including THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. A simpler chemical test can measure the relative concentrations of those active chemicals and likely determine the source.


  14. - Adam Smith - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:48 am:

    I thought Republicans were for free and open competition, and letting the free markets decide? The bill already allows Dispensary A to supply Dispensary B if Dispensary B just wants to sell and not grow their own. If their product is so good and their methods so superior, there’s nothing to stop them from earning the monopoly. I see no reason to let them buy it.

    Also, their plan doesn’t call for any fewer facilities. There would still be 59 dispensaries, they would just be supplying them all. So, there would actually be 61 facilities.


  15. - Old Shepherd - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    I need to ask a dumb question. Is smoking the only way to achieve the medical benefits of marijuana? Isn’t there some way to put the beneficial compounds in a pill or an inhaler like is done with most medicines derived from a natural source?


  16. - Wensicia - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:03 am:

    ==Isn’t there some way to put the beneficial compounds in a pill or an inhaler like is done with most medicines derived from a natural source?==

    Yeah, drag the major pharmaceutical companies into this; that will keep prices down.


  17. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:10 am:

    ===Is smoking the only way to achieve the medical benefits of marijuana===

    No. It can also be eaten, which is generally healthier than smoking obviously, although the effects take a bit longer to feel when it is eaten.

    Or so I’m told.


  18. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    Whether its 59 little places or one big one, if the Feds can come in and bust the place (or those places) that Illinois deems “legally” growing and processing the stuff, then what makes it legal? Is it somewhat legal? Is this along the lines of being “just a little bit pregnant?” It’s either legal or it isn’t.

    Maybe this debate should be moved to the federal level? Make it part of Obamacare?


  19. - Rich Miller - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    ===It’s either legal or it isn’t.===

    Well, it can be legal in the state and illegal at the federal level.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:21 am:

    I’m sorry, I was getting some Cheetos, what is this all about …

    Not very well thought out. You can’t have one group run a monopoly that can be shut down, while affecting everyone else who may need the product, medically. Too much to risk.

    It’s Half-Baked policy and in the practice.

    Oh, great, now I can’t find my Pop-Tarts….


  21. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    Old Shepherd,

    There is a drug called Marinol, but it is synthetic THC. Marijuana can also be eaten in foods. There is a stigma with smoking the drug, but it doesn’t need to be this way for medical patients. There is at least one study of long-term marijuana users that shows not much harm is done if not combined with tobacco.

    I would rather have real marijuana rather than a synthetic drug, and my ingestion method of choice may vary between smoking and eating. Plus, you can have a communal benefit if you pass around a joint with fellow patients.


  22. - amalia - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:25 am:

    well of course they have to figure out who will control it before they make it legal to sell, right? it is Illinois after all. wonder if the company will run a nice bakery…..


  23. - sam m - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:46 am:

    Are there any other medications that are administered by smoking? We ought to be honest and just legalize this dope. No taxes or regulation that will bloat the state government further,just legalize it.You can’t control or tax something that grows as a weed.


  24. - Brendan - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 11:56 am:

    I’m not a marijuana smoker or in need of medical marijuana, but the idea that people should be forced to purchase marijuana from a third party when they can grow it in their own back yard (or closet!) for personal use is utterly ridiculous.


  25. - BMAN - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 12:07 pm:

    I AN SHOCKED! Someone holding up legislaton until it is determined who will be the big winner. What a crazy idea; oh Yeah, this is Illinois.


  26. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 12:29 pm:

    *FKA grabs morning coffee, looks out window*

    “Hey honey, look what they’re putting in across the street. A pot field!”

    “You mean a Pottery Barn?”

    “No, a pot field. Like a field of marijuana.”

    “Well, the new neighbor said he was a farmer. You should go say hello.”

    This should make for some fun zoning board meetings.

    Especially with Chicago’s recent “urban farm” zoning ordinances which require growing “must be conducted within completely enclosed buildings” and may use “hydroponic systems”.


  27. - dupage dan - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 12:35 pm:

    The practical reality is that if you suffer from severe nausea due to chemotherapy or severe lack of appetite due to various medical conditions, eating marijuana or taking a pill with some water may very well be impossible. Smoking or inhaling a vapor may be the only way to deliver the drug.

    Suppositories are possible but I won’t get into that.

    I’ve got some pop-tarts, OW, but I got them from Medponics so that might be a problem.


  28. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===I’ve got some pop-tarts, OW,===

    Woah, I was just thinking of Pop-Tarts …wow …

    This issue is no big deal to me, either way, illegal or legal, or whatever.

    I do object to the idea of a “legal” monopoly, for what is seen by the Feds as illegal, and this monopoly, if shut down, paralyzes the medical supply. Crazy. And to top it off, this goofiness is stalling the Lang Bill.

    - dupage dan -, you read my mind, dude. It’s like … you heard me …


  29. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 12:50 pm:

    Illinois Pop-Tart sales are about to go through the roof!

    Truly poor timing for Hostess to go Bankrupt.


  30. - Skirmisher - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:01 pm:

    There have been some interesting pieces in national media this past month about would-be pot barons hiring the best lobbiests and politicians money can buy for the purpose of setting up monopolistic “turfs” for what promises to be a very lucrative legal dope business. Looks like some well-connected folks in Illinois are trying to get a bit of that action also.


  31. - zatoichi - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    6 ten inch containers + Miracle grow potting soil + grow light + a closet + water = HomePonics.


  32. - wordslinger - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:19 pm:

    –“If somebody got stopped by the police, and said, ‘Oh, I’m using — this is medical marijuana,’ you could actually test it and find out whether it was true medical marijuana grown here at one of the facilities, or whether it was not in fact medical marijuana,” explains Cross.–

    I’ve read that about ten times now. I’m not sure if it’s stupidly outrageous or outrageously stupid.

    Either way, it seems clear that Cross wants to line his buddies up for a monopoly.

    Like any small government, pro-business conservative would.


  33. - StayFree75 - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:24 pm:

    How are the producers and dispensaries going to deal with federal income taxes? Federal tax court rulings have allowed only deductions for the direct cost to produce the marijuana, with all other expenses related to its sale and distribution disallowed. These rulings have shut down dispensaries in California and elsewhere when dispensaries who are complying with state law are hit with tax bills from the IRS greater than their net profit before tax.

    Medical marijuana isn’t economically viable until federal tax law changes because marijuana remains a Schedule 1 Controlled substance.


  34. - Colossus - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    I’ve read the entire text of HB30 and its amendments last week, and I noticed the mushiness of how growing would work in IL. Nice to know someone was working on it (/snark).

    This is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard of. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Medponics was trying to either corner the market or ensure that even if HB30 passes there will be no legal supplier by making it easier for the feds to just shut that whole thing down in one fell swoop.

    If this bill is going to pass, it should be passed in a way that ensures it will be implemented, not just put on the books. While it’s better than the status quo, there needs to be home growing provisions. I just don’t understand how someone can expect to make a hardy plant than can grow anywhere illegal.


  35. - Colossus - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 1:31 pm:

    And while Cross is right that this would let you test all marijuana samples to confirm the DNA is the officially-approved (licensed?) version, does he really think the State Police is going to want to do that in every interaction between the police and the patients?

    It’s like they’re looking for ways to satisfy public opinion (which is on the side of medical MJ) without actually changing anything.

    Sigh.


  36. - newmedman - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 2:36 pm:

    Let’s see… Arrest me for cannabis possession because I don’t have the proper cannabis ? I’m on a few generic drugs, can they lobby to have me arrested for that too ?

    Only in Illinois will a politician embrace an illegal monopoly in something that is (still federally) illegal. Does Medponics even exist yet ? Are they growing a stash up there in Waukegan now for the patients to try?

    There are people who have been growing and making specialized medicine from cannabis for decades now. There are studies in every medical journal about the efficacy of cannabis regarding numerous health problems. When I check all the studies and lists, Jim Merlo doesn’t show up anywhere…….

    But he’s the guy who is going to take care of everyone in Illinois…..

    Nonsense !!!!
    And for Mr. Cross to treat the medical cannabis issue like a drug trade just shows the ignorance and the arrogance that lies beneath… Hey buddy, most of us don’t smoke it, are you going to raid my house, confiscate and test my butter and oil too ? What happens if I got my cannabis extract from a respected scientist instead of your man Merlo ?

    Truly a sad maneuver against many truly sick Illinois citizens. Like it or not, cannabis is never going away and I find it hard pressed for our legislature to try to monopolize a market for a plant that grows wild. lol, If big pharm could patent the plant we wouldn’t be having this discussion…..

    we would all be stoners !!!

    Shame on you Tom Cross. Your actions are no better than a rival cartel leader. When leaders fight, it is the citizens that suffer most…… put that in your pipe and smoke it like Honest Abe used too.

    shame on you.


  37. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 3:12 pm:

    At least Tom Cross got off the golf course….

    Tom Cross gave a TV interview on the Medical Marijuana, here is the transcript:

    “Say Mr. Cross, tell me about this Medical Marijuana you are advocatiing as a monopoly. I heard they are growing it on golf courses? Is that right?”

    “That’s true. The amazing stuff about this is that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home, and just get stoned to the bejesus belt that night.”

    “Thanks Irrelevent Leader Cross. Back to you in the Studio.”


  38. - Anon - Friday, Nov 30, 12 @ 4:19 pm:

    Zatoichi: sounds simple, but isn’t it risky to buy quality seeds from other countries due to illegality?


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