Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x2 - Sanguinetti responds - NORML blasts Rauner *** Rauner blasts medical marijuana law
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*** UPDATED x2 - Sanguinetti responds - NORML blasts Rauner *** Rauner blasts medical marijuana law

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

* From the Bruce Rauner campaign…

Bruce Rauner today called for openness and transparency in the application process for Illinois medical marijuana licensing. Recent media reports have shined a light on Pat Quinn’s effort to block public access to information regarding Illinois medical marijuana facility license applicants. The legislation enabling the sale of medical marijuana makes the applications for companies vying for facility licenses “secret.”

“My message to Pat Quinn is this: Governor, the jig is up. Stop this rigged process before it moves forward any further,” Rauner said. “The application process for medical marijuana should not be held in secret where insiders win and taxpayers lose; it should be open and transparent.”

Under legislation signed by Pat Quinn, 22 licenses will be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for “cultivation centers” that are legally allowed to grow medical marijuana. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will issue 60 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries. By statute, Pat Quinn’s administration will get to pick the winners and losers for both types of licenses.

Enter Quinn’s former chief of staff, Jack Lavin. During Tuesday’s televised Chicago Tribune gubernatorial debate, Pat Quinn was pressed to explain who in his office recommended illegal patronage hires to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Quinn pointed the finger at his former chief of staff and best friend, Jack Lavin. A federal grand jury also recently subpoenaed Lavin’s email as part of the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Quinn’s failed anti-violence program. After signing off on illegal hires at IDOT, Lavin is now representing one of the potential medical marijuana applicants. Last week, Bruce called on Quinn to direct all state agencies to refuse lobbying efforts from Lavin.

“The medical marijuana process is straight out of the Rod Blagojevich playbook,” said Bruce Rauner. “Instead of a non-transparent program manipulated by Pat Quinn’s cronies, we should auction off licenses to the highest qualified bidder, with full disclosure of each company’s financial interests.”

The Illinois General Assembly should pass new legislation authorizing a competitive and transparent process for pre-approved applicants to bid on medical marijuana growing and dispensary licenses, ensuring appropriate safeguards for intellectual property, financial and security capabilities and detailed information on the financial interests of bidders. Winning participants unable to meet the terms set forward by the state would lose their license, allowing the state to competitively rebid for services.

* But according to a Democratic backgrounder, Rauner has his own connections to med-mar investors…

Turns out 2 of Rauner’s top supporters - Steve Denari and Tom Cronin are trying to cash in on medical marijuana big time:

    Steve Denari is on the Board of Democrats and Independents for Rauner SuperPac:

    Denari is also the Chief political strategist of Democrats and Independents for Rauner, Denari and Tom Cronin, the River Forest Republican Committeeman got together to start a fund to give loans to companies starting marijuana businesses. They are trying to raise between $50 and 100 Million [according to Crain’s Chicago Business]

…Adding… It doesn’t appear that the SuperPAC mentioned above (via the Belleville News Democrat) has yet been formed. However, Denali says in the article that he backs Rauner and Cronin is a Rauner contributor.

* From Crain’s

Prairie Wellness Fund originally intended to raise about $50 million to meet demand in Illinois, but after announcing its plans earlier this month the level of interest among potential applicants has increased its goal to “somewhere between $50 million and $100 million,” said Mr. Denari, who is CEO of Political Action League and chief political strategist for Democrats and Independents for Rauner, a super PAC formed by East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer. In 1994, Mr. Denari was the Democratic opponent of former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert after chairing Texas billionaire Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign in the Chicago area.

The organizers of Prairie Wellness Fund are still gauging demand and aren’t yet soliciting investors until they prepare and issue a private placement memorandum, probably around Sept. 1. They plan to seek investors only from Illinois, primarily wealthy individuals and family-run investment pools.

In addition to the short-run opportunity of providing loans and letters of credit for applicants, there may be long-term financing needs to get marijuana businesses up and running. With plans to charge interest rates of about 24 percent, Mr. Griffin said returns to investors should range somewhere above 20 percent, net of fees and before taxes. […]

“If anybody can’t afford 2 percent a month in this business, you don’t want them,” Mr. Denari said. “There’s something wrong with their business model.”

That’s a pretty hefty vig, if you ask me.

*** UPDATE *** From Illinois NORML…

Illinois NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws) is appalled that Bruce Rauner wants to delay the application process for the dispensary and cultivation center licenses of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program by having the Illinois legislature pass a new law regarding transparency and bidding in the application process. Medical cannabis patients have been waiting for years for the bill to pass and have now had to wait months for the agencies to adopt rules and regulations that would guarantee a professional program to help ensure that program will eventually be made permanent.

Dan Linn, Executive Director of Illinois NORML commented, “Bruce Rauner essentially told every cancer, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis patient in Illinois that they are now pawns in his political game. If he wanted to comment on this law or any aspect of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program he could have done so during the public comment period of the draft rules or at any of the three town hall meetings that took place over the summer. By calling for a delay in the application process and the issuing of cultivation and dispensing licenses now, he is telling seriously ill patients that they should wait longer to get access to this medical treatment.”

The fact that Bruce Rauner wants to auction off licenses to the highest bidder shows how familiar he is with using his vast fortune to squash attempts for small businesses and entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in an industry. Medical cannabis patients should not have to wait any longer to get access to this medicine, as many are struggling to survive and are in constant pain; to use them as a tool for political leverage is disgusting. Furthermore, the pilot program is set to expire in less than four years and medicine will probably only be available for less than three years of that time, so any further delay is going to negatively impact the health of many patients who are eagerly awaiting safe and legal access to this medicine.

“Mr. Rauner has now demonstrated his lack of compassion for those who are seeking relief through the use of medical cannabis.” Linn added.

Illinois NORML also noted Rauner’s lack of familiarity with the law since as written it is designed to cost the taxpayers of Illinois nothing and must be financially self sufficient. By claiming that the application process will cost taxpayers he has revealed his lack of understanding of one of the basic aspects of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

Illinois NORML Assistant Director added, “Many Illinois patients have died while waiting for legal access to this important medicine, including some who worked for years to help pass the law but were never able to take advantage of it themselves. This proposed delay is unacceptable and patient access should be provided as soon as possible.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Evelyn Sanguinetti…

“As a woman living with Multiple Sclerosis, I will not allow Pat Quinn’s allies to politicize MS or any other disease in order to mask his cronyism and corruption. There is nothing that prevents medical marijuana from proceeding in an open and transparent manner except the corrupt insiders who have something to hide.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    This is medical marijuana. It is supposed to help people. The regulations imposed on the greenhouses and the dispensaries is so onerous, the product might still be too expensive to help people.

    Making people “win” by paying the highest price would only increase the cost and fewer people would benefit.

    This is the kind of governing we would get with Rauner. Only the rich……

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Sounds like he agrees with most of the commenters here the other day.

    The way this is being parceled up and doled out, while not being subject to relevant open records laws, is not OK.

    And that IS some hefty vig. 24 percent interest? Sheesh.

  3. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    24%? I smell seeds burning.

  4. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    And he thinks auctioning off the licenses to the highest bidder is a better idea? Certainly no room for shenanigans there. Sheesh.

  5. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    Rauner’s wanting pre-approved applicants to bid on contracts to grow a weed is at least as crazy as the current IL law and process.

    Other than non-prohibitve taxes — similar to alcohol — get the state of out the cannabis business and let all adults, including the healthy, enjoy cannabis as they please.

    Either party could attract a lot of voters with a message similar to this one posed by the Liberal Party in Canada:

  6. - anon - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    going to be fun to see who goes to jail with this program…

  7. - too obvious - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    I know it’s off point, but many have probably forgotten that Bruce Rauner is an owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has a minority interest to be sure, but he’s still an owner, and there aren’t that many.

    Surely some reporter should as him where he stands on this latest NFL scandal and whether he thinks the commissioner should resign. If I’m not mistaken I believe the Steelers had some similar type problem with their QB. Rauner’s good with all this? Maybe so given some of his associations with the old body guard and Ditka with the “hit ‘em in the mouth” comment.

  8. - Jerome Horwitz - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    What is the response by the governor’s office?

  9. - Larry the Cable Guy - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    Too Obvious.
    Asking Rauner about his position on Qtrbk Ben Rothlisberger and his past transgressions. Now that there would be funny.
    “I know nothing. Don’t know Ben.”

  10. - wordslilnger - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    How about letting those who are sick have licenses to grow their own like they do in other states?

    How’s that for a small-government idea?

    Does relieving the suffering of the chronically ill really have to be a score for the wired?

  11. - LOBO Y OLLA - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 12:54 pm:


  12. - LOBO Y OLLA - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    I’m incorrect..
    Shoppers at recreational marijuana stores pay 12.9 percent in general and special state sales taxes, as well as a 15 percent excise tax that is applied at the wholesale level.

    It’s out-of-staters that pay 34-38%

    This is the tax on recreational weed. Medical weed should be lower for the obvious reasons.

  13. - truthteller - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    Is Rauner in favor of pension funds being required to reveal all fees they paid to private equity and hedge funds?

  14. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    Welcome to the party, bruce. Lou has been pushing this bill for years. And you wait til NOW to chime in?

    I started out thinking license applicants should pre-qual , then bid. But this is not a typical (sin) consumption business. It is medical. And we are already making it onerous and expensive

  15. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    ==What is the response by the governor’s office?==

    My response would be: “We are implementing the law.”

  16. - georgeatt - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    GET THE MARIJUANA IN THE HANDS OF. PATIENTS NOW. Fix the process later. Rauner would rather throw patients in jail.

  17. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    To the update, will “High Times” magazine also be endorsing in this race? /s

  18. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    A Trib article today states that Rauner would have vetoed MMJ.

    I thought he had no social agenda.

  19. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    truthteller, don’t be stupid. That information is public and listed in the annual reports of public pension funds.

  20. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    Get the cannabis to all the adults who want it — healthy or not, we’re ready!!

    LBJ and so many others would have certainly lived a lot longer had they been able to enjoy cannabis instead of drinking so much liquor and smoking tobacco.

  21. - Amalia - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    NORML vs. Sanguinetti. classic.

  22. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    With all due respect, Ms. Sanguinetti, Mr Rauner voiced his lack of political support for medical marijuana back in January.

    Now, with polls showing him down, he launches into a political tirade to appeal to a Conservative base that the Tribune poll shows barely supports him.

    Who is politicizing here? Because I don’t recall Quinn holding a presser.

  23. - Nony - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:33 pm:

    I talked to a businessman the other day who said the license fee for illinois is 25k, it’s only around 2k in colorado….

    That’s serious money in a corrupt state like Illinois

  24. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:41 pm:

    Sanguinetti can politicize MS but no one else is “allowed” to?

  25. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 4:47 pm:

    Of course the process should be open and transparent–no earthly reason why we shouldn’t know the names of applicants on the front end, instead of waiting, as Lang has suggested, for lawsuits in the back end. And so Rauner, much as we might hate to admit it, is right. The process should be halted until it can be done in the light of day. Otherwise, a bunch of insiders are going to end up with marijuana monopolies and cash in big time. No one with a lick of sense believes that the state isn’t going to expand access. In light of licensing and application fees, there’s no way anyone could make money at this if the current restrictions on who can get legal weed remain and are taken at face value. There’s an end game to all of this, which is why it’s so important to know who’s trying to get on the gravy train before it leaves the station.

  26. - Ali Nagib - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:03 pm:

    @Anonymous 4:47PM: So after over a decade of waiting for legal access to this important medicine, Illinois patients with serious, often terminal, conditions should have to wait even longer to get relief from debilitating pain and other symptoms because you’re concerned about the end game for businesses? Mr. Rauner has had plenty of opportunity to voice his opinion on this law and he has chosen to wait until the application process is almost complete before making his feelings known. He could come out and support home cultivation so patients don’t have to rely on “monopolies” handed out by the state, or he could support tax-and-regulate so all adults including patients, can have legal access while increasing tax revenues and decreasing criminal justice costs, but instead he’s decided to try to score some cheap political points around corruption, rather than dealing with the underlying issue at hand.

  27. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:06 pm:

    “… or he could support tax-and-regulate so all adults including patients, can have legal access….”

    The window is open.

    It’s a perfect time for Rauner and the GOP to go through it.

  28. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    Sanguinetti can get around all the politicizing by simply supporting a simple $100 license to allow people to grow it in their back yard garden.

  29. - Colossus - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:33 pm:

    Kasich - that’s the only thing that could get me to vote for Rauner, and he’s the only candidate that I would think twice about voting for if he promised me legal pot. But you’re right, the opening is there and Madigan’s not going to bring the Dems through it - I doubt the GOP will be wise enough to do so either.

  30. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:46 pm:

    @ Colussus

    …it’s very strange that they are blind to it. Makes me wonder if there is a ton of political contribution dough available by opposing full legalization.

    I’ve seen data showing teen use of cannabis is down in Colorado as compared with the rest of the nation since its legalization. Those enjoying cannabis since legalization are those who enjoyed it in the past, but now have too much to lose (job, family) if they chose to enjoy cannabis where its use remains a crime.

    ABC national use showed busts of CO drivers with cannabis in their system is up, but those test are not an indicator of recent use. ABC didn’t mention that road fatalities are down since legalization in CO.

  31. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:50 pm:

    s/b “ABC National news….:

  32. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 5:56 pm:

    Is there any evidence that NORML director Dan Linn is a Quinn crony? If not Sanguinetti should have been a bit more careful with her comments. NORML is clearly a single issue group and they were obviously going to come out against any delay in the process, I doubt it has anything to do with corruption and his point on the opportunity to speak up is well taken.

  33. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 6:25 pm:

    To be clear, Rauner told AP he was against medical marijuana back in January.

    He is ONLY bringing it up now because Tribune poll shows him doing very poorly with conservatives. So he is trotting out the Dick Nixon, culture wars crap.

    And, polls show NRI, taxes and IDOT were not
    Working, so why not try this attack?

    Everything else is just theatre.

  34. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 6:31 pm:

    illinois was the first in the nation for medical marijuana in 1978 (health department sent it to the state police and vice vesra until now)

  35. - Sandy Champion - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 6:59 pm:

    Today I woke up to learn that Bruce Rauner was spouting off about how he would veto the medical cannabis bill. How he felt the program was tainted with corruption and various other issues regarding favoritism and so forth. This bill isn’t and never has been about politics. This is about our SICK and DYING of Illinois choosing to use a natural product that works for them. This is about people who cannot get up out of bed without the help of medical cannabis. This is about people who cannot eat without the help of medical cannabis. This is about people who cannot get through the day because they are forced to take an enormous amount of prescription drugs and now choose to use an organic, humane and natural product derived from a plant. Synthetic drugs, for some, are killing them. The side effects outweigh the benefits that the pharmaceutical drugs purport to do.

    This product has never been touted as a miracle drug for everyone. But for those it works for and for those who choose to try a more natural holistic way to treat their diseases, it’s a quality of life. I have taken care of my husband Jim, who is stricken with MS, for 26 years. He has tried every drug imaginable; even synthetic cannabis Marinol. These drugs were and are debilitating him worse than his disease. He suffered daily from leg spasms, stiffness and pain that could not be relieved by the drugs and increasing them was the only option. At one time he was taking 59 pills a day. Needless to say his appetite was shot and he lived like a zombie, so drugged up he’d fall asleep at any given moment. Sometimes, he couldn’t get out of the bed for weeks at a time. Marinol caused him to vomit profusely every morning and sleep the rest of the day. His quality of life was going downhill fast.

    When he lost his ability to walk in 2003, a family member offered him a few puffs off a cannabis cigarette. While I was not on board immediately, it was clear the cannabis had a positive affect on Jim. He could open his legs, his hands and the overall stiffness and pain subsided. And he smiled genuinely for the first time in a long time. We made a plan to wean him off most of his drugs if he chose to use cannabis. I can happily report he is now down to 6 a day, a far cry from 59. And his quality of life has improved two fold.

    Bruce Rauner needs a lesson in humanity and compassion. He lost his heart today when he used his platform to hurt the sick of our state. His lack of understanding and concern for his constituents was appalling to say the least. How dare him use the medical cannabis program as a campaign strategy, a platform farce?

    To add, it’s obvious his running mate Evelyn has not experienced the debilitating pain, stiffness, spasms, lack of appetite or difficulty walking that some people like Jim, my husband, has experience or those in our state suffering this progressive disease. If she is doing well and not affected badly, good for her. But she should not speak for caregivers, my husband or anyone else with MS or any of the qualifying conditions unless she has done her research. She has shamed the entire multiple sclerosis community by using her disability to get her running made Bruce Rauner elected. I hope someday her multiple sclerosis doesn’t ever affect her as it has Jim. He’s unable to use cannabis in the hospital because it’s a federal institution. He’s suffering now but wont once he’s back in his home.
    And I’m thinking she forgot she said she supported medical cannabis in the past even though Bruce Rauner didn’t? “Rauner’s running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti, suffers from multiple sclerosis. As a result, she says she understands the potential for marijuana to medically help some people.
    “While marijuana does not provide a cure for those dealing with debilitating and terminal conditions, it has been known to provide relief to those dealing with the painful symptoms,” Sanguinetti wrote in her questionnaire. “I’m okay with allowing them to continue to do so within the existing restrictions.””

    Lastly, shame on any candidate who would be against a natural medicine for someone who is sick. Rauner and Sanguinetti both accused Quinn and his allies that they are politicizing illnesses and medical cannabis program to help them? Ummm, hello? Isn’t that exactly what they did this morning? I challenge both Bruce Rauner and Evelyn Sanguinetti to come face Jim and myself or any other qualifying patient and tell us how why they would be in support of letting the sick and dying suffer needlessly because of a natural plant?

  36. - Amalia - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 7:21 pm:


  37. - Someone you should know - Tuesday, Sep 16, 14 @ 11:56 pm:

    Steve Denari is a goof, I knew that in 1993 when I watched
    The War Room about Clinton/Gore 92. Denari called Littke
    Rock and talked to Stepanopoulos about Clinton
    Having an AA child, George called him a loon, he was
    100% right

  38. - joe z. - Wednesday, Sep 17, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Sorry noticed typo.i said that they should not try to auction off to the highest bidder. In fact if you dont know how to grow it or if you never taken it in any manner, you should have absolutely no say so in it. Unless your behind it 100%. Just my opinion.

  39. - givens - Wednesday, Sep 17, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    I’ve had bad RA plus other related disorders for almost 20 years. I’ve tried all the available medications that have been used for RA, plus some off-label. Nothing, except permanent, debilitating side-effects. Been to Univ of Chicago, Northwestern, Mayo Clinic. Nothing. I don’t expect wonders from cannabis, but right now, any help would be better than the amount of narcotics I have to take just to get up. Rauner will not get my vote, and probably not get those of my voting-age children’s, either. Cruel.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is here! Finally a decent box

* Cease featured in duel of the day
* For Abreu, near-cycle dimmed by 'tough' loss
* White Sox overpowered after scoring 5 in first
* Fulmer to make first big league start Monday
* Giolito to make White Sox debut on Tuesday
* White Sox put Lopez on DL with back strain
* Gonzalez seeks another quality start in finale

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