Medical marijuana growers are now spending money to influence the expected legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois in an effort to keep that market to themselves. Leading members of the industry have formed a political action committee, begun contributing to political office holders and hired a former state senator as a lobbyist .The aim is to limit cultivation licenses being issued to competitors if recreational pot is legalized. The state’s tightly regulated marijuana industry is expected to undergo huge growth if the drug is legalized for general use. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to be allowed to sell for recreational use as well, but because of the federal ban on marijuana, they must buy their supply only from licensed growers within the state.
The Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, which is seeking to limit the licenses, represents many of the cultivation centers and dispensaries, but the growers dominate funding of the lobbying. The alliance’s efforts are not sitting well with some people within the industry. “If you continue to have a limited number of licenses, it’ll be more expensive, and you’ll get more people continuing to buy on the black market,” said Dan Linn, executive director of the pro-marijuana legalization group Illinois NORML.
Medical cannabis growers, who already have been vetted by state regulators, want to get recreational licenses immediately and would like a ban on new licenses for a year or more. After Illinois lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in 2014, more than 300 groups applied to get business licenses, but only 16 growers ended up with licenses from state regulators. They currently supply pot for 55 medical dispensaries in the state. Now, those companies are taking advantage of the change in the law.
In addition to licensed growers, there is also the question of whether and how much people will be allowed to grow at home. A previous bill proposed five plants per home, which licensed growers and law enforcement oppose. But advocates say that’s the only way to guarantee that people can afford the drug if it becomes legal.
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or possession of any other drug in Bergen County, you should contact Frank T. Luciano who has been defending cases of these types for over 40 years. He is a lifetime member of NORML’s legal committee and a longtime member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. You can assess Frank T. Luciano’s skills by visiting his Testimonials page on his website.