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“This is an initial, and hopefully short-lived, shortage”

Monday, Dec 16, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release

December 16, 2019

As the legislative sponsors of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (”CRTA”) and the Medical Cannabis Program Act (“MCPA”) we are closely monitoring the beginning of adult-use cannabis sales on January 1, 2020.

Medical cannabis patients and caregivers have increasingly raised concerns to us and to the media about product shortages, and alleged product & price manipulations. We have relayed this information to the Pritzker Administration and have confidence that they take these matters as seriously as we do.

Each state that has implemented an adult-use cannabis program has had issues related to supply shortages. As legislators, we crafted the CRTA and the MCPA to have specific language to prioritize patient access - something no other state has done. We know there will still be challenges, but are committed to putting patients first as the adult-use program begins.

There should be no doubt that medical cannabis patients will be prioritized once CRTA becomes effective in January. CRTA provides medical cannabis patients priority sales in the event of any product shortages, and also guarantees medical cannabis dispensaries shall continue to provide the same variety and quantity of product as they did on July 1, 2019.

The State of Illinois has much to be proud of in passing the social equity-centered CRTA, but success will require vigilance from the legislature and the Pritzker Administration to ensure the law’s goals are met.

We will continue to closely monitor this situation, and urge all of our constituents to stay in touch with us regarding their experiences and challenges as Illinois embarks on cannabis legalization. Patients and caregivers should continue to stay in contact with us with ideas and suggestions to make it easier for them to access their medicine.

If you have any other questions, we would be happy to provide further information.


Sen. Laura Fine
Sen. Heather Steans
Rep. Kelly Cassidy
Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth
Rep. Bob Morgan
Rep. Cellina Villanueva
Rep. David Welter

* Besides the worrisome stories about shortages and price hikes for medical patients, there are also a lot of gripes about supply for adult use consumers. This piece puts it into some perspective

Canada and California, two larger markets, suffered poor launches due to a lack of infrastructure. In the case of California, the state tried to implement the program without an established regulated medical cannabis market. This is a challenge for Michigan as well. In Canada, a robust medical program was 100% mail-order, and the transition to retail stores was stymied by a lack of them. Even to this day, a full year after legalization, only Alberta among major provinces is anywhere close to having enough dispensaries to serve demand. Illinois will have more dispensaries open on day one than Ontario, which is larger in population, has more than a year after legalization.

* CBS 2 has been one of the outlets ginning this up

In fewer than three weeks, recreational sale of marijuana becomes legal in Illinois.

But before a single bud has been sold- there is already a shortage, and medical patients are feeling the impact.

Marijuana patients this fall helped us document a disturbing trend well in advance of legal recreational sales–a shortage in supply at the state’s medical dispensaries.

Not mentioned in the story is that the state had a very limited medical cannabis law until this year, when the governor signed a law that greatly expanded the program to cover, well, just about anything. That bill wasn’t passed until after the adult use bill was approved by both chambers and it kinda flew under the radar.

* This is a much better story that relies on facts, not conspiracy theories

There are 94,373 residents with medical cards, as of Dec. 4, 2019, up from 49,366 on Dec. 11, 2018, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The biggest spike came in August, after Gov. JB Pritzker signed a law to add chronic pain as a qualifying condition for a medical card. The launch of the opioid alternative program also increased numbers this year.

Some have speculated supply is being hoarded so it’s available for the recreational market. That’s not the case, Ballegeer said.

Marijuana cultivators are “working off the original space they had set up for their cultivation. They’re producing everything they can as fast as they can,” she said. “We order from the cultivators just like the patients do. There’s no holding back for recreational, because there’s no benefit to us or the cultivators for holding back.”

Dispensaries must keep a 30-day inventory for their patients, said Pam Althoff, executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois. As demand grows, the inventory must, too.

That has led to a “crunch,” as has several weeks passing between when the legislation was signed on June 25 and when the first recreational grow licenses were issued.

“If you do the math, it takes cannabis minimally 12 weeks, sometimes 16, depending on the plant and the strain to produce a crop. We’re bumping up against that Jan. 1 deadline,” Althoff said. “This is an initial, and hopefully short-lived, shortage. I think over the past several weeks the industry, as well as the State of Illinois, our regulators, truly understand this will be somewhat of a soft opening. But then give us a few more months, we anticipate the availability of product will significantly improve.”


  1. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    I figured this was going to be the case, so I called my guy and stocked up this past weekend. Even if it’s unlikely, I don’t want to take the chance that my purchase at a dispensary would deny a medical patient getting what they need. They probably don’t have a black market option to go through.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    Our legalization system was set up to get product out as quickly as possible after legalization. It would stink to do it like Massachusetts, where there were no recreational businesses almost two years (or more) after legalization. Medical marijuana shops, being established businesses, seem like a very good place to start. Very exciting time. Good luck to all the businesspeople and consumers.

  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    I remember the national shortage when I was in college, the so-called “drought of 1987.” Worst. Summer. Ever.

    Seriously, I think we can expect some bumps out of the gate, but hopefully nothing serious.

  4. - SWIL Voter - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    At the Collinsville dispensary yesterday, they had a 1.5 hour wait outside in the snow just to get in the door to “check in” to queue for your order, which was another hour wait.

  5. - Captain Obvious - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    Sounds like the distribution system will be suffering chronic shortages.

  6. - @misterjayem - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:28 pm:

    “Sounds like the distribution system will be suffering chronic shortages.”


    I love it.

    – MrJM

  7. - Father Ted - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    It’s been legal in Canada for over a year at this point and supply/demand still has prices higher than on the street for a less powerful product. No edibles are sold as of yet. Read the Google reviews for the dispensaries in downtown Ottawa for more.
    Lesson learned, moderate your expectations for January 1; there will be a ramping up period for sure.

  8. - H-W - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    On a roll (third post today). If they would just let people grow their own, …

  9. - Maryjane - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:45 pm:

    - H-W: “If they would just let people grow their own,”

    Well said. I couldn’t agree more. I would add: If you are a patient, you are allowed to grow your own medicine and keep what you produce. Please do avail yourself of that wonderful and miraculous right.

  10. - BigLou - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:45 pm:

    A bit off topic, but what is the punishment, after legalization, for someone selling weed illegally? I’ve read several articles that say they expect the illegal weed market to flourish after legalization and am curious. Thanks

  11. - SpfdNewb - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    -A bit off topic, but what is the punishment, after legalization, for someone selling weed illegally?-

    It probably will be the same as it was before legalization. But now the state can add taxation crimes, in addition to possession w/ intent to sell.

  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 1:57 pm:

    ===I’ve read several articles that say ===

    Get off Facebook.

  13. - @misterjayem - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    “If they would just let people grow their own…”

    I strongly suspect that mere legalization wasn’t the final step in the reform of Illinois’ cannabis laws.

    – MrJM

  14. - BigLou - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    I don’t do facebook. These are Tribune and Suntimes articles I looked at and a financial paper that I can’t remmeber.

  15. - Pyrman - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    On Saturday at the Collinsville dispensary it took 4-5 hours to get an Express order. Folks with obvious medical issues standing in line for hours (some outside). When the legislature gives out a monopoly there is no incentive to worry about customer service.

  16. - H-W - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 2:25 pm:

    Maryjane and MrJM - I personally have no desire to grow or consume, but it does seem silly to me not to allow adults now deemed responsible enough to consume, the ability to grow their own for personal consumption. I am not as confident as your MrJM that we will get to that point anytime soon, given that we are now corporatizing weed production and sales. I am sure a lobby will arise, insisting we need to protect citizens from “the wildwood flower” that grows wild on the farm. *smile*

  17. - A Guy - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 2:31 pm:

    This really does demonstrate that given a choice and even a higher price, many (most?) people would strongly prefer NOT to break the law. They’ve waited their whole lives for this to be legal. They’ll wait a bit longer if they have to.
    It’ll be just like “Tickle Me Elmo”. Some will get some on Day 1. Some will wait until a bit after. I suggest we refer to the MM as “Tickle me Rich”.

  18. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 2:48 pm:

    == “If they would just let people grow their own ==

    Idk, have you ever tried growing it? It’s a complete nightmare. It’s too cold in Illinois to grow it outside effectively, so you have to do it indoors. It takes a year or more for the plant to mature, and you need special grow lights and fans and whatnot. Plus the smell. My god man, the smell. After it buds the smell gets into everything, even clothes hanging in a closet on a different floor. It’s like that cigarette smoke smell, it permeates. Unless you have a separate greenhouse away from your living space, it’s not worth the trouble.

  19. - XonXoff - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    Here’s another quote from Pam Althoff, when she was busy locking her “medical” member companies in as the initial monopoly on adult use growing and retail.
    “Our study indicated we could meet the demand for three years successfully, but in talking with the sponsors and the stakeholders, we have agreed that, minimally, for the first two years, the existing cultivation square footage approved by the state of Illinois can meet the demand,” source:

    I didn’t believe her financially motivated rhetoric then and I don’t believe her now. If the flower is not already in the cure it’s not going to be available Jan 1. They know right where they are on available inventory for the 1st and several more growth cycles. The only unknown is demand. They also know that after new licenses are issued they too have build-out and long growth and cure cycles to work through. She and her members wanted the entire pie for a year or so and they got it. The police were successful in getting homegrow removed over a perceived inability to count to 5, but that only applies if you don’t pay to be in the states “medical” program. Given demand, dispensary prices/profits and tax revenue will be high during the coming shortage and unsatisfied demand will send a glut of new consumers into the waiting arms of the black market. The 5 plant homegrow would have allowed responsible adults to be harvesting their own small personal supply of autoflower strains by March.

  20. - Kentucky Bluegrass x Featherbed Bent x Northern California Sinsemilla - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 3:16 pm:

    So now the industry says they need more time to build when just a few months ago they said they would be fine for the first few years.

    “Our study indicated we could meet the demand for three years successfully, but in talking with the sponsors and the stakeholders, we have agreed that, minimally, for the first two years, the existing cultivation square footage approved by the state of Illinois can meet the demand,” Pamela Althoff, a former Republican state senator and current executive director of MCAI, said.

    All in the inexpensive products that were available in the spring are now being turned into oil which has a longer shelf life and can be used for edibles and vape products when the flower is all gone once adult use sales start. Patients seeking the cheap stuff are simply out of luck these days.

  21. - Maryjane - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 3:42 pm:

    - XonXoff: “The 5 plant homegrow would have allowed responsible adults to be harvesting their own small personal supply of autoflower strains by March. ”

    Thank you.

    - Lester Holt’s Mustache: “… it’s not worth the trouble. ”

    I disagree. :-)

  22. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 3:51 pm:

    “It takes a year or more for the plant to mature”

    It took 4-5 or so months from seed to harvest for indoor growing, if I remember right. For those into it and who can do it, it’s difficult but a labor of love. When growing is successful, Mother Earth opens her green, bounteous hands to us and says, “Here, my children, partake of me.” Five plants per household can yield a lot.

  23. - Randomly Selected - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 4:00 pm:

    By the time the social equity businesses gets up and running it will be just in time for the “shortage” to be over and the price spikes come down. The largest piles of money will already be made and the everyone else can fight over the scraps.

  24. - RIJ - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 4:30 pm:

    I’m willing to have some patience as the system sorts itself out; I’ve waited 39 years for it to be legal.

    For 39 years I was a end-user criminal - maybe at low risk, but always at risk; I don’t mind paying more in order to be legal.

    For 39 years it was sometimes feast or famine, and I was never good at finding connections; I don’t mind paying more for a supply that will stabilize before too long.

    If it takes dispensaries and shops a year to match supply to demand, that’s .25 the amount of time I’ve had to deal with the black market.

    Nothing will dim my happiness at cannabis legalization.

  25. - XonXoff - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 4:36 pm:

    While I’m not pleased about the way certain aspects were gamed — just to get it across the finish line — it’s still a welcome start to reform, imho.

  26. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 16, 19 @ 4:38 pm:

    ===The largest piles of money will already be made and the everyone else can fight over the scraps===


    The state is licensing about 30 dispensaries. It will eventually license 500. In a state of 12 million.

    Don’t be daft.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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