Quantum 9 CEO Michael Mayes was featured in a guest column for Marijuana Business Daily on Feb. 3, on '5 Issues to Watch as the Illinois Medical Marijuana Market Materializes.' He discusses specific challenges Illinois entrepreneurs will face as they begin businesses in the newly legalized state.
To begin the discussion, Mayes lists supply-chain management as a top concern. With only 22 cultivation licenses available for 60 dispensaries, it is likely that should a problem arise with a cultivation center, all dispensaries will be affected. This could result in higher prices for patients.
As a result, each cultivation center must take great care of their crops, growing on a commercial and professional level. This includes laboratory testing, and licensing questions arise when considering third-party testing facilities. This could also be a factor in product pricing.
Mayes also brings to light the restrictions and difficulties business owners will face when selecting a location for their facilities. Dispensaries must be at least 1,000 feet away from a school or licensed home daycare, and cultivation centers require at least 2,500 feet. This becomes a problem in dense cities such as Chicago, where 13 dispensary licenses are up for grabs.
The rules from 4 state departments are currently open for public comment, and Mayes expects one issue of concern will be the small list of qualifying medical conditions. Other states have much lengthier lists, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which has been proven helpful for the country's veteran population. Chronic pain may also be added in the future.
Of course, in the state of Illinois, politics play a large part in the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. The three-body system of the Department of Public Health, Department of Agriculture and Department of Finance and Professional Services will have to work interdependently, which can quickly cause snags and delays in the system.
Naturally, the overarching political challenge lies in the gap between federal and state law. Business owners must "take a step back and ask ourselves how this will work and whether we are willing to take on the risks involved."
The four-year pilot program is currently in the rulemaking phase, and four governing bodies have released draft rules. The Department of Public Health is taking public comments on the first set of rules drafted Jan. 21. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Finance and Professional Services, in addition to the Department of Revenue, released drafts in early February and will take public comments through the 27th.
Registry Identification Card applications are expected to be available in the last quarter of 2014.