Jump to content

Illinois Governer Issues Mmj Licenses To 18 Cultivation Centers


Recommended Posts

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday granted permits for dozens of companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois, though it will still be several months before patients can legally take the drug.


The surprise move came just one week after Rauner said no licenses would be issued until a legal review of the process initiated under Democratic predecessor Pat Quinn was completed. The Rauner administration did not detail Monday how the issue was resolved so quickly, saying only that it conducted an internal review of Quinn’s work and also consulted with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, and found numerous problem areas that could open the state to legal action.


Among those problems are what Rauner general counselor Jason Barclay called “arbitrary” scoring provisions under Quinn that all but eliminated some applicants, and applicants that were disqualified without clear reasoning or a chance for companies to respond to concerns.


All told, Rauner’s actions clear the way for 18 cultivation centers to begin growing medicinal pot, with another three applicants undergoing further review. The state will send letters to the selected cultivation centers informing owners they were selected for a permit and have 48 hours to accept the licenses. Final approval requires businesses to pay all related fees, register employees, and prove operators have enough money to build and run the facility.


One company to be granted a permit is Ieso LLC, which wants to grow medical marijuana in southern Illinois. The firm lists as a manager Tom Jennings, who is a former director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.


Another 53 companies were authorized to operate dispensaries that will sell the drug once it’s grown and harvested, with five companies under additional review. Companies in legal limbo include Health Central LLC, which hired former Quinn chief of staff Jack Lavin as a lobbyist. The company is seeking two licenses to sell medical marijuana in Springfield and Collinsville.


Also getting a closer look is Custom Strains LLC, which is seeking to open a dispensary in the West Loop. The company is run by Perry Mandera, who also owns a trucking firm and VIP's, a Gentleman's Club, on the near North Side.


For weeks, Rauner criticized Quinn’s rollout of the medical marijuana program. Quinn’s administration had said it wanted to issue licenses by the end of last year, but Quinn left office in January without doing so.


Last week, Rauner’s office released numerous internal documents that showed Quinn officials had scored and ranked applicants and were preparing draft news releases to announce finalists.


A spokesman for the former governor issued a statement Monday night saying Quinn did not approve any licenses because he “felt the process was incomplete” and he “refused to rush the licenses out the door.”


There were accusations of clout under Quinn’s watch, and Rauner’s decision to approve many of the same applicants did little to quiet those accusations.


Kreider Services had hoped to land a cultivation center in Dixon in northwest Illinois and its team had worked to secure a strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web that helps children with seizures and epilepsy. The nonprofit didn’t get a license and questioned how the state’s grading system overlooked a group offering a strain of marijuana in demand for helping children.


“It just seems like Pat Quinn didn’t do the best job on this process to begin with and Rauner’s making it worse,” said Jeff Stauter, Kreider’s executive director.


But Green Thumb Industries, which won licenses to cultivate in Dixon, Rock Island and Oglesby as well as dispense in Lake County, contended it had gone through a rigorous process, including a security team that included former Chicago police Superintendent Terry Hillard and former state police Director Terry Gainer.


Green Thumb spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch praised the Rauner administration for a “thoughtful and thorough review of the medical cannabis process” and dismissed the suggestion that insider politics played a role in the selection process.


Mike McClain, who also worked with Green Thumb, said he acted only as a consultant because he feared lobbying of government officials would have “hurt” the group’s chances. McClain said he registered as a lobbyist, but only to make sure his involvement with the group was transparent.


“We wanted to go beyond the letter of the law. We didn’t want any sense of impropriety,” said McClain, a former state representative from Quincy and close ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan.


Tribune reporters Ellen Jean Hirst, Robert McCoppin and Jessie Hellmann contributed.






Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...