On Tuesday, lawmakers who make up the obscure but powerful Joint Committee on Administrative Rules had no objections to the rules that will be used to implement the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
That means the medical marijuana program in Illinois can officially be put to use, and the process to begin registering patients, dispensers and growers can begin.
* But there’s a catch. More than one, actually. Oh, well There’s always a catch in Illinois…
State regulators must choose which businesses will get licenses to grow and sell pot, and must set up a laboratory and procedures to test the drug for safety. And then there’s the matter of figuring out how to start growing a crop that has been illegal for decades.
Bryan Willmer, an owner of Grand Prairie Farms in Frankfort who hopes to open a dispensary and cultivation centers in Will, Kankakee and Champaign counties, said entrepreneurs are hoping state officials will specify how to get seeds.
“I guess they should fall from the sky,” he joked.
State officials said Tuesday they will try to clarify that issue. In addition, the Illinois Department of Agriculture is converting one of its labs into a testing center, where pot can be checked for potency, mold and pesticides so consumers know what they are getting, said Bob Morgan, coordinator of the state program.
But first — hopefully within 30 days, he said — regulators will draw up criteria that will be used to score business applications to decide who will be awarded licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana. The state intends to approve up to 21 cultivation centers and 60 retail stores spread around Illinois, based on issues like security, patient education and expertise in growing crops, Morgan said.