Illinois Medical Cannabis industry being held down by red tape

With Illinois almost halfway through its four-year medical cannabis program, the burgeoning industry is experiencing a slow rollout. The Department of Public Health has only approved 4,400 applications since it began in September of 2014. A new study released by California-based ArcView Market Research predicts Illinois will do only $15.6 million in retail cannabis sales in 2016.

Governor Rauner’s Friday decision to reject conditions like chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and autism from qualifying for the program were a factor in their forecast.

Other legislators oppose legalization of cannabis calling it a gateway to more powerful drug use.

But can a state with already taxpayer-burdensome finances like Illinois afford to pass up the potential revenue a recreational cannabis industry could create? Washington state brought in $70 million in its first year of legal adult use and is projected to make $636 million more in the next five years.

INN reporter Greg Bishop spoke with Chris Stone, CEO of Health Central Illinois. His medical cannabis facility in Springfield, once opened on Feb.15, will be the largest dispensary in the state. He’s optimistic that more customers will turn up once the doors open.