Medical Marijuana Sponsor Defends Secret Approval Process
Jim Anderson -- Illinois Radio Network
The sponsor of the medical marijuana law is defending the anonymity of the applicants for licenses to grow pot.
In the evaluation process, the Department of Agriculture staffers reviewing the applications didn’t get to see who the applicant was. In fact, neither does the governor, until the decision is made on who will get the licenses.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) says the idea is to assure that licenses aren’t approved or denied because of the applicant’s political connections, or lack thereof.
“The best application in each State Police district is supposed to win the license, regardless of who it is, regardless of who they know, and they (the Department of Agriculture) don’t know who it is, and they don’t know who they know. They just score the application,” he said.
Lang says when the licenses are issued, surely some of the recipients will be friends of politicians, or will have made campaign contributions, or will have hired lawyers or lobbyists with some kind of connections – but so will have the applicants who were denied.
The governor objects to the process, saying it lacks transparency and should be played out in public. The names of the applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, will be revealed after the decision is made.
The medical marijuana law went into effect last year, but the process of issuing cultivation licenses has stalled. The previous governor didn’t issue the licenses, and Gov. Bruce Rauner says the applications and the process of reviewing the applications should be re-examined.