AP NEWS

Illinois medical cannabis growers lobby on license issue

February 21, 2019

CHICAGO (AP) — Medical marijuana growers in Illinois have formed a political action committee and are spending money in an attempt to limit the market if recreational use of the drug is legalized in the state.

Medical cannabis businesses have contributed more than $100,000 to the newly formed Illinois Relief Fund, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The lobby is seeking to ban new cultivation licenses for a year or more once recreational use of the drug is legalized. Licensed medical cannabis growers say they should be automatically awarded recreational licenses. State regulators have approved licenses for 16 growers, which supply marijuana to the state’s 55 medical dispensaries.

One of the main groups seeking the license limit is the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, which represents numerous cultivation centers and dispensaries.

Growers that are currently licensed should be allowed to show they can handle the expected boom in demand if recreational cannabis is legalized, said Pam Althoff, a former state senator who is the alliance’s executive director.

“My organization believes they have the current capacity to meet the demand,” she said. “Until we see substantive data that indicates differently, we support no new cultivation licenses.”

Critics say limiting licenses only benefits a small number of growers and hurts retailers and the public.

“If you continue to have a limited number of (growers’) 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. “There’s a natural demand for more license holders.”

Some growers don’t oppose new licenses. Mark de Souza, CEO of Revolution Enterprises, said he welcomes an increase in competition as long as current regulatory testing standards are upheld.

“The most important aspect is that the market does not grow faster than regulatory bodies can service,” de Souza said.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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