Pubdate: Fri, 06 Feb 2015
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2015 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Robert McCoppin


Number Below Initial Estimates; Backlog Exists for Businesses' 
Out-Of-State Checks

The number of approved medical marijuana patients in Illinois has 
reached about 1,000, officials announced this week.

While the number remains far below initial projections, it's a 
noticeable increase from 650 one month ago.

"Some people may be waiting until the product is actually available," 
Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

That earlier number was "terrifying" for medical marijuana business 
owners, said Mark Passerini, president of the Illinois Cannabis 
Industry Association, who had said it's not a sustainable business 
unless more patients sign up.

About 14,000 people have registered to begin the patient application 
process for medical cannabis since the state began accepting 
applications last fall. Of those, about 2,100 have submitted at least 
part of the application.

To qualify, patients must have one of about three dozen specified 
medical conditions, and they must fill out a written application with 
a doctor's recommendation and fingerprints to pass a criminal background check.

The most commonly cited conditions initially included cancer, severe 
fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, officials said.

The announcement of patient numbers was followed by news Thursday 
that 70 medical marijuana businesses that received licenses this week 
hadn't yet been subjected to out-ofstate background checks through an 
FBI database, as required by law.

The Illinois State Police told The Associated Press that the agency 
is waiting for the FBI to approve access to its database.

A spokesman for Gov. Bruce Rauner, who on Monday approved the 
licenses, said that the background checks would be conducted pending 
FBI approval.

Business owners said it will take time to prepare their sites and 
about four months to grow the first crop.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom