By Carla K. Johnson
CHICAGO – As Illinois’ new medical marijuana program gets underway, potential patients, growers and retailers have questions. State officials plan to hold three town hall meetings across Illinois to provide answers, particularly about the application process, which starts next month.
Multiple sclerosis patient Marla Levi of Buffalo Grove plans to apply for the required ID card so she can buy marijuana legally from a state-approved dispensary. She’s found that the plant* helps relieve the rigidity in her legs, she said. She wants to attend one of the meetings to get more information.
“This is my first question: When will I actually be able to have medical marijuana in my hands?” Levi said. The best guess from state officials is sometime next year. The Illinois law doesn’t allow patients to grow their own marijuana. A limited number of cultivation permits will be issued to businesses around the state.
Growers and retailers are still pacing at the starting line, awaiting the opening of a competitive two-week application process, expected to start Sept. 8.
The entrepreneurs got a hint at the scoring process Friday when state officials posted guidelines on the program’s website. Dispensary applicants, for example, can get up to 1,000 points for required documentation of their plans for business, security, record-keeping, financial disclosures and an optional bonus section for planning scientific studies, providing benefit to the local community or fighting substance abuse.
The first town hall meeting will be Thursday in the southern Illinois city of Collinsville, according to the state program’s website. That meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Kenneth Hall State Regional Office Building. Other meetings are set for Aug. 18 in Peoria and Aug. 20 in Chicago.