News Local/State

Data Shows Competition To Start Up Medical Marijuana Facilities

A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana in Colorado Springs.

In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, a worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Entrepreneurs looking to get in on the business side of Illinois' new medical marijuana program are facing fierce competition.  The state has come out with numbers showing just how much. 

Illinois' Medical Cannabis Program -  as it's officially called - is just that. A pilot.  As in, not permanent. And it's designed to strictly limit who will be eligible to buy, and use, marijuana as medicine. 

But it's already proving to be a burgeoning business.

There, too, though, Illinois has strict limits, that will prevent everyone who wants to from getting in on the program.

159 applications were submitted by those interested in growing cannabis; of those, spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Illinois will award 21 licenses.  

Illinois got 214 applications for dispensaries; only 60 will win.  In Illinois State Police District 10 (including Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Vermilion, and Shelby Counties), the state received 11 applications for cultivation centers, and 8 for dispensaries.

District 6 (which includes DeWitt, Livingston, and McLean Counties), 10 applied to start up a cultivation facility, and 4 applied to start up a dispensary.

Arnold said it'll be up to two panels, made of experts in policy, legal issues and horticulture, to decide.

"Some of the things the applications will be scored on include a security plan, a business and operations plan, looking at record keeping, and inventory, a financial plan, as well as having some bonus categories.," she said.

There's less competition in some parts of the state for dispensary licenses. In 10 districts, the state either received no applications or just one application to run a marijuana retail shop.

Arnold said in those cases, a second selection process round will be held by year’s end.  That includes a district comprised of Ford, Iroquois and Kankakee Counties.

Soon after, Arnold says people will be able to buy medicinal marijuana in Illinois. 

"We anticipate being able to get quality product to the citizens of Illinois who qualify in the early part of 2015, preferably in the spring," she said.

Right now, Illinois is accepting applications for people who want to use marijuana as medicine if their last name begins with "A" through "L."  The remaining applicants can start the registration process next month.