The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 9, 2014

Advisers: Proposed marijuana rules are fair

SPRINGFIELD — Advisers to businesses hoping to get into Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program say the proposed rules for getting into the industry would be financially burdensome but fair and likely wouldn’t hinder the application process, which is expected to be highly competitive.

The state’s revenue, agriculture, and financial and professional regulation departments on Friday released proposed regulations for the new program. Public comments on the proposed rules will be taken until Feb. 27.

Consultants and lawyers for potential medical marijuana business owners say the expensive, rigorous process is in line with other states. But some users are concerned the large businesses likely to own dispensaries and cultivation centers may not produce a cheaper and high-quality medicine for consumers.

Applicants for retail dispensary stores would need $400,000 on hand, with verification of how they acquired the money. The proposed rules also call for about $50,000 in application, registration and annual fees.

“Clearly, what the state of Illinois is attempting to do is stop people who have income coming in from elicit sources like the drug trade,” said Nicholas Williams, an attorney for HW Holdings in Bloomington who owns medical supply stores in the region. He said his company is interested in expanding to medical marijuana dispensaries.

He called the application “beyond complex” and expects it to likely require hundreds of pages of business plans. He said the selection process will be competitive.

“You better know the color of the paint on the walls, otherwise you’re going to have trouble getting picked,” Williams said.

The proposed rules also say that 21 of the 60 dispensaries required under the law would be outside of the Chicago area. The application process for cultivation centers is similar. The state would charge a $100,000 annual renewal permit fee and $25,000 application fee under the proposed rules. No single person or entity would be allowed to have more than three cultivation center permits. They’ll need $250,000 in liquid assets available.

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