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Why Quinn’s med-mar punt matters

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015

* When Gov. Pat Quinn punted the medical marijuana licensing issue to his successor, he not only created a longer wait for patients, he also put in jeopardy some pretty well-paying jobs

A medical marijuana dispensary proposed on Ottawa’s North Side was ranked most likely to receive a license in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties prior to the end of Gov. Pat Quinn’s term, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press. […]

Scott said the operation would generate 25 to 30 jobs with pay ranging from $30,000 to $100,000.

Try finding a job in Ottawa that pays $100K a year. Not easy. Heck, try finding one at $30K.

* The AP has some new info on the licensing procedure

When Quinn left office, his administration publicly said the agencies in charge of evaluating applications still had more work to do. But the emails and other documents show the agencies were ready to award many of the licenses, having evaluated and identified as top scorers 18 businesses to grow medical marijuana and

The new information could trigger lawsuits, said patient advocates and the lawmaker who sponsored the legislation that created Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program.

“The scoring system should have played out and those with the highest number of points in each area should have won,” said Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, questioning why the Rauner administration released the documents before granting the business licenses. “This creates fodder for litigation. And there will be litigation.”

Not to mention that the names of those license-holders aren’t supposed to be made public under state law until after the procedure was complete.

* Illinois Review

ArcView Market Research released the executive summary to the 3rd edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets. The report finds that the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74% in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013 making it the fastest growing industry in the U.S.

The report also shows that if trends continues and all states legalized marijuana the total market size would top $36.8 billion, making it larger than the organic food industry which is $33.1 billion according to Nutrition Business Journal.

It also concludes that pot businesses in states with restrictive patient access and regulatory systems like Illinois, New Jersey, and Delaware are not likely to be particularly profitable as long as the market constraints remain.

The executive summary is here.

* In other news, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appears to have been quoted out of context in some outlets. Many folks saw his recent statement about voter approval of recreational weed

“If I had a magic wand that I could have waved and reversed the decision of the voters … the day after the election, I would have waved my wand,” he said in a recent interview.

But here’s the rest of his quote

“Now, I’m not so sure,” he said crediting his team with a smooth implementation. “It’s not impossible to see that we could create a regulatory framework that works.”

Hickenlooper pointed to reports from the left-leaning Brookings Institution that called the rollout “largely successful” and the right-leaning Cato Institute that found the law “had minimal impact on marijuana use and the outcomes sometimes associated with use.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:41 pm:

    1. Quinn and his staff bungled it big time. Assuming yesterday’s reports are accurate, Quinn also cements his legacy as a petty, axe grinding leader.

    2. What else did the Quinn Administration botch (either purposely or accidentally)? Was fracking also delayed for petty reasons?

    3. I have personally spoken to persons who have applied for licenses. It appears as though their vitriol was aimed in the right direction and wildest concerns were validated.

  2. - DuPage Moderate - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:44 pm:

    Even as a Rauner supporter, I can’t help but notice the hypocrisy of his complaints of government regulation stifling business growth…while at the same time presiding over the government that is holding these licenses hostage.

    This is the exact reason why I say “no-way” to investing into medmar…we’re Illinois, of course we can’t do anything right.

  3. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    It seems to me that the Quinn administration whiffed big on this one, thinking it was doing the right thing by trying to hold off on politically-connected companies and those with sketchy legal histories in other states, despite blind scoring.

    Congratulations Colorado on a progressive approach to public policy.

  4. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    I’m not sure why anyone is surprised. Quinn is that gift that just keeps on giving.

  5. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:47 pm:

    === … Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, questioning why the Rauner administration released the documents before granting the business licenses. “This creates fodder for litigation. And there will be litigation.” ===

    I was surprised that Rauner’s folks released it. I believe FOIA exemptions clearly covers this material. The only answer I can come up with is that Rauner wanted to vindictively embarrass Quinn by releasing the information. Well I agree with Lang that this will result in litigation that will cost the State $ - at a minimum lawyers fees. Since I believe this was a political act, I feel the legal expense should come from Rauner’s slush fund.

  6. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:50 pm:

    It is a big deal, but this is an industry in its infancy. There will be growing pains. Last week’s Economist adds some facts/context from an investment perspective (and there are plenty of investors dying to put money into this business in Illinois and elsewhere):

    “Legal recreational and medical sales amounted to $2.6 billion last year, most of them in California and Colorado. That is just 6% of the estimated $40 billion still going to criminals (over $200 billion a year is spent on tobacco and alcohol). Cannabis venture capital was a tiny $104 million in 2014 and opportunities remain limited because of federal restrictions. Full legalisation is perhaps five to ten years away. But investors beware: when it comes, the price of weed may fall.”

  7. - Shemp - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 12:59 pm:

    So is the list of the other 12 or 18 locations besides Ottawa floating around out there?

  8. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:02 pm:

    Can Rauner issue the licenses post haste?

  9. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:10 pm:

    Rich- thank you for posting all of Gov. Hickenlooper’s quote. I have seen that first sentence used in several anti-legalization articles recently, always taken out of context to “support” the writer’s biases. The time is coming when our government’s decades long war on our fellow citizens ,using false claims against marijuana, will finally be over, but in the meantime the fight to educate citizens continues. Pointing out when someone distorts another person’s statement is one valuable way to do so.

  10. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    Norseman, if PQ had finished the J-O-B, the FOIA issue would be moot.

  11. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:17 pm:

    Interesting to me that liberals were ok with taking much longer to implement a CCW plan, and are taking this major step so lightly.

    If you are an advocate for Med Mar, do you want this rushed and botched?

    I suspect Quinn saw many of the recipients on the list had ties to himself or other democrat power brokers and there was either impropriety, or at least the appearance of it. Rather than go out in a scandal, he just walked away. Good for him. Our last 2 governors would have worked it into a big payday on their way out the door.

    Maybe none of us know how to react anymore when a governor uses prudence over self interest.

  12. - old-pol - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    Norseman - A matter that may be FOIA exempt is not the same as a matter that cannot be disclosed should the record holder decide to do so.

  13. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    Perhaps PQ is working night and day to become a part of one of these consortia? :’)

    The new administration will get around to taking care of another PQ fail in due time. Perhaps not as fast as some may want it done, but it will get done. I would welcome a fresh set of eyes to review the work done scoring the applications to be sure none of the usual suspects had their thumb on the scales…..

  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:26 pm:

    ===do you want this rushed and botched?===

    Rushed? The law passed over two years ago.

    ===none of us know how to react anymore when a governor uses prudence over self interest===


    This was all about self-interest. Quinn’s.

  15. - Most popular word in the 60s - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:43 pm:

    we could see additional legislation here…extending the pilot and modifying the application and licensure process…this could even involve refunding all fees paid by the applicants.

    It’s hard to imagine the Rauner folks can just move forward given what was released/leaked without changes.

    Not impossible, but hard to imagine.

  16. - AlabamaShake - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:45 pm:

    **Not to mention that the names of those license-holders aren’t supposed to be made public under state law until after the procedure was complete.**

    So Rauner blatantly violated the law? Why isn’t anyone talking about this?

  17. - Roamin' Numeral - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    Docs can prescribe stuff way, way more potent than weed. For Quinn to punt on issuing the licenses is just, well, Quinnesque.

    Hopefully Gov. Rauner will show PQ what governing looks like and issue the licenses right away.

  18. - 4 percent - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    Wow… Pat Quinn lied… Shocking. I’m also curious who keeps being anonymously quoted in various stories as a “Quinn administration staffer”…. His administration is over - let the previous Governor answer the questions if he wants a response in print.

  19. - Millie K. - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    Typical Quinn….probably was worried Lavin’s influence would come out…………nothing surprises me about the Quinn administration….

  20. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 2:03 pm:

    I hope we straighten this out soon. We can use the revenue, and it could lead us into more legal marijuana and more revenue and economic growth.

    ***opportunities remain limited because of federal restrictions***

    Obama recently said something to the effect that the Feds will continue to not interfere with states’ marijuana laws. He also said that he expects more states to legalize marijuana.

    This should be an issue in the 2016 presidential election–to keep or expand what the Obama Administration did toward states who legalized recreational marijuana, or to move in the opposite direction. I expect a few more states to legalize marijuana in 2016.

  21. - Secretariat - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 2:16 pm:

    Millie: The group that Lavin was representing was DQ’d for some past out of state issues.

  22. - Left Leaner - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 2:16 pm:

    Looks like a pretty good opportunity to create jobs. This passed two years ago - there’s no hard opposition.

    Quinn’s punt = Rauner’s gain. Do the ‘review’, pander appropriately to the far right, and then move forward - make it a good thing right before the upcoming budget fight.

  23. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 2:27 pm:

    ===the Feds will continue to not interfere with states’ marijuana laws.===

    They are interfering plenty as it is given that most banks won’t handle any money associated with mj. The feds need to proactively change the laws that create these stupid burdens. While they’re at it, the feds need to reclassify mj as a non-schedule I drug so medical and other research can resume.

    It’s not enough to say the feds won’t interfere. True reform must start at the federal level or this industry will never take off and the criminals will continue to make boat loads of money.

  24. - AgentOrange - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 2:31 pm:

    I think Rauner chose not to contest the AP’s FOIA request in order to release the putative licensees’ identities as part of a public vetting process. This gives him air cover if he uses Quinn’s scoring. The equivocal internal correspondence suggests that at first, the Quinn folks decided to award the cultivations licenses to the highest score in each district. At some point, they backed off of that approach in favor of giving the top 18 applicants a license (e.g., no more than one cultivation license per applicant). The latter may be a little bit crosswise with the language of the Act, but I understand the sentiment — more liquidity in the wholesale market. Based on the terse Trover statement (shocking to think that he wants to keep secrets), the question is whether Rauner will simply be looking for scoring anomalies (e.g., double-checking Quinn’s math), or whether he’s going to re-score the applicants. The comment about referring to the AG’s office, seemed to be more directed at any potential cronyism in the PQ scoring, but that’s just one interpretation.

  25. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 3:37 pm:

    Why would you invest in a pilot program that will expire in two more years?

  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 4:25 pm:

    I find the FOIA matter interesting. Governor’s offices have always relied on the exemptions to keep ‘preliminary’ and other internal deliberations private (although, as pointed out above, FOIA doesn’t REQUIRE non-disclosure, it simply permits it). Is this GO going to change that for all matters, or just those involving their predecessor? If the former, this truly is transparency. If the latter, then it is just petty and hypocritical. Someone should file a FOIA involving something preliminary and internal to the Rauner Administration and test the waters . . .

  27. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 4:48 pm:

    === Someone should file a FOIA involving something preliminary and internal to the Rauner Administration and test the waters . . . ===

    Have they done anything to have preliminary documents? (s/)

  28. - Chicken Little - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 4:55 pm:

    ==Someone should file a FOIA involving something preliminary and internal to the Rauner Administration and test the waters==

    The problem with that is, they can release stuff in response to FOIA A about the price of rice in China and refuse to grant FOIA B on the price of tea in Japan simply because they can. What Rauner has done here is no different than what other governors have done. They pick and choose what they want to make public and if they want to keep it secret, well, there are plenty of exemptions to provide cover. If someone doesn’t like it, let ‘em sue. It takes forever and there are no meaningful penalties. There’s no upside in Rauner implementing a hard-and-fast policy or rule regarding FOIA. It is in his interest to make things up as he goes along.

  29. - walker - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 5:10 pm:

    So in response to Quinn’s punt, Rauner just punted in back, and then called time out, rather than finishing the process.

  30. - nothingsurprisesme - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 5:36 pm:

    In the last few years budget cuts have forced the Dept of Health and the Dept of Ag to cut staff significantly. Meanwhile the legislature gives them more and more regulations to enforce with fewer employees. Why is everyone shocked that it took so long to go through the applications? The medical marijuana project may have been more than what the departments could handle. Did the legislature approve funding to add employees to the departments? Probably not.

    When Gov. Hickenlooper(love that name) publicly states his hesitation in supporting recreational use of pot it might be wise to be very careful before approving pot growing centers. There might’ve been questions about a few of the applicants that required further review. Illinois should watch and see how things turn out in California and Denver before even considering legalization of recreational use in Illinois. Colorado officials think they went too far when they approved pot legalization.
    It’s a little disappointing to see pictures of able bodied young men standing in line in the middle of the day to buy pot. If Gov. Rauner would like to save money on medicaid maybe he could suggest to those who would rather smoke dope than work to move to Colorado. We could lower the number of medicaid recipients without raising taxes. Better yet, why not increase the penalties for pot possession to convince users to flee Illinois for the freedom to smoke pot in Colorado? We would have fewer inmates, parents basements would be emptied and Colorado would be burdened with their care.

  31. - Odysseus - Tuesday, Jan 27, 15 @ 8:40 pm:

    This is still blindingly stupid and angry-making.

    It’s not only “not impossible”. It’s easy.
    “But here’s the rest of his quote…

    “Now, I’m not so sure,” he said crediting his team with a smooth implementation. “It’s not impossible to see that we could create a regulatory framework that works.””

  32. - Illini97 - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 8:01 am:

    == Rushed? The law passed over two years ago. ==

    It passed August 2013 and was effective January 2014. The departments didn’t issue administrative rules until July 2014. They held info sessions for interested parties in August 2014. Applications for licenses were accepted in September 2014. Admin rule changes continued into December 2014. Last month, the rules were still being amended. There are still municipalities wrestling with the zoning issues created.

    Bob Morgan has espoused the rigor and thought put into creating Illinois’ regulatory approach to the issue as they took the best practices from other states and avoided their growing pains. But that does take time. And I’m perfectly OK with the State taking their time on this.

  33. - jerry 101 - Wednesday, Jan 28, 15 @ 9:14 am:

    I don’t use marijuana, but I live in Colorado now.

    Aside from smelling weed from time to time when I’m walking around with a bit more frequency than I smelled it in Chicago, I don’t see any negative impacts from legal weed. The streets where the dispensaries are at seem to be thriving retail districts. Denver’s crime seems to pretty low.

    The biggest problem is that the homeless population has surged. Between legal weed and nice weather, a lot of homeless youth have made their way here, causing the homeless population to surge. Denver’s also a homeless-friendly city, with a lot of programs to help the homeless, so that also makes it attractive to your more mobile homeless. However, there isn’t a big problem with panhandling or anything like that, so its really no worse than Chicago, and arguably better. Once more states legalize weed, it should be less of a problem.

    Anyone who thinks that legalizing weed will make the sky fall is out of touch with reality.

  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 8:08 am:

    ==Try finding a job in Ottawa that pays $100K a year. Not easy. Heck, try finding one at $30K.==
    Ummm, unless you are one of the many administrators and senior staff in the four or more school districts in Ottawa. Those teachers making for than $30K earn it. But, I never understood why all these school districts aren’t consolidated.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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