Illinois: IDPH making effort to get it right on medical cannabis

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AUTHOR:  “Jordan Zoot.  “aBIZinaBOX Inc., CPA’s

IDPH Making Effort – we are somewhat pleasantly SHOCKED and SURPRISED that the Illinois Dept. of Public Health in particular, and State of Illinois government, in general, seems to be making a REAL and CONCERTED effort to implement cannabis policy.

A bit of background is in order – I am personally licensed as a CPA in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. The firm is licensed in California, Florida, Illinois and Oregon [due to quirks of CPA licensing at the firm and individual levels and types of practice services performed. I spent the first nineteen years of my career located in New York City, the next eighteen in Chicago, and have had an increasing presence in Oakland over the past three years. Our cannabis industry involvement since roughly 2001 has been entirely in California due to our perception that Illinois state government was corrupt as hell…and that even extended to my home town off Evanston [See outrageous lease ordinance for cannabis dispensary implemented by Evanston City Council when Illinois first legalized MMJ at ) Ordinance 40-O-15 Authorizing City Manager to Execute a Lease Agreement for City-Owned Property at 1804 Maple Avenue and Illinois Cannabis Corruption and Secrecy ] A US District Court Judge forced Illinois to add intractable pain to the MMJ statutes qualifying condition in January 2018 [See Article here.] We have addressed the outrageous terms of that lease elsewhere.


IDPH Making Effort To Get It Right

Keep in mind that the State of Illinois legalized medical cannabis [“MMJ”], in August 2013 [Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed Public Act 098-0122 “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” into law with an effective date of January 1, 2014 (the “Medical Cannabis Act”)].

The Illinois Legislature passed legislation on June 4, 2018, which would allow potentially thousands of patients to receive medical marijuana as an alternative to highly addictive opioids, a move that could provide a notable boost to MMJ sales. The state’s Governor signed the legislation in August 2018. The legislation allowed the use of medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids – a development that could eventually generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional MMJ sales. Marijuana Business Daily estimates the move could add tens of thousands of new patients to a program that has roughly 42,000 currently registered.

Illinois had been a highly restrictive MMJ market. But the Marijuana Policy Project noted some key provisions of the legislation that will ease restrictions, including:

Qualifying patients will receive provisional registration allowing them to purchase medical marijuana for 90 days while their application is being processed (or until it is denied).

Criminal background checks and fingerprint requirements will be eliminated for all participants/applicants in the existing MMJ program and the new Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.


IDPH Making Effort To Get It Right

Illinois became the country’s first state to legalize recreational marijuana cultivation and sales through its Legislature, a landmark move that paves the way for the creation of one of the nation’s largest adult-use cannabis markets offering “huge” business opportunities on May 31, 2019 [See Illinois Adult Use and Illinois Cannabis Priorities  , and Illinois House Bill 1438.]

It seems that after the difficult climb to legalize adult-use Illinois has started to get its act together. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed new legislation on

MMJ qualifying conditions added are chronic pain, anorexia nervosa, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoarthritis, anorexia nervosa, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Neuro-Behcet’s autoimmune disease, neuropathy, polycystic kidney disease and superior canal dehiscence syndrome. Chronic pain tends to be the leading driver for MMJ sales.

Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, like doctors, now can certify patients for the program. [This is groundbreaking for MMJ programs]

The expansion gives added heft to a program that was bolstered substantially in late January when an opioid alternative pilot program kicked in. Former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed that legislation.


IDPH Making Effort To Get It Right

We note that the enactment of adult-use legislation usually results in a decline in MMJ use of cannabis. However, Illinois has done something very encouraging in this regard.

The state’s MMJ program is that there is only a 1% sales tax.

Buyers of adult-use cannabis products, on the other hand, can expect to pay a retail tax of 19.55%-34.75%, depending on the product’s potency, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

The Marijuana Business Factbook recently projected that the Illinois MMJ market would generate $200 million-$240 million in sales in 2019, up from $132.9 million in 2018.

While we have been reluctant to involve our practice in the Illinois cannabis market for close to twenty years, we may test the water. The first major step in this direction is that I have personally applied for an Illinois MMJ card due to my continuing struggle with diabetic neuropathy in my feet. The background to my healthcare team includes my Endocrinologist and Neuromuscular Neurologist at Northwestern Memorial, and Wound Care/ and Pain Management at Shirley Ryan Ability Labf/k/a Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago [“RIC”].


IDPH Making Effort To Get It Right

We are going to try both topical CBD for day time use and a high-concentration THC product for night-time pain use. The current Illinois MMJ program Dehabilitating Conditions list is here. The website for the IDPH Opioid Alternative Pilot Program is here. The overall growth of the Illinois MMJ program can be tracked here. The main website for the Illinois MMJ Cannabis Program.

If you are a licensee or are seriously considering applying for a license for a “plant-touching” cannabis business in Illinois preferably in Cook, Lake or McHenry County, we would REALLY like to hear from you. We have very deep and extensive experience with the legal cannabis industry on the Federal level, with extensive experience in California, and significant experience in Oregon. We would be willing to substantially discount our fees and dive into the Illinois cannabis market if we had a significant client. Our further preference is for an operator that is either substantially capitalized or venture-funded with a minimum of $2MM capitalization. Our experience is that we are overpowered for a “mom and pop” and most “friends and family” operations. If you have the interest, enter your contact information below.


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