I was in a meeting with a company rep that was trying very hard to get one or more medical marijuana cultivation licenses in Illinois. He had big visions of grandeur for what the program would be like, and boasted a lot about how many business opportunities there would be in Illinois. I was quick to point out to him that Illinois’ list of qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient was very short, and that would largely determine how big Illinois’ medical marijuana industry would be.
I could tell that what I was saying to him was not sinking in. He kept talking about how much bigger Illinois’ population was compared to Oregon’s, and that it will be the biggest opportunity in the marijuana industry for those that are approved for a license in Illinois. Here we are several months later, and the patient numbers in Illinois still haven’t grown to anywhere near Oregon’s numbers, especially when you consider that Illinois has over 3 times as many residents as Oregon. Illinois has seen growth in the number of patients in the state, but the numbers are still very low. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
State health officials reported that roughly 2,500 residents have applied for MMJ cards, an increase of roughly 150% from earlier in March. Thus far, about 1,600 MMJ patient applicants have been approved by the state, according to an Illinois TV station.
That’s good news for the few dozen companies in Illinois that have obtained business permits.
The low patient counts have been of concern to cannabis entrepreneurs in the state. One MMJ company even declined a cultivation license it had been awarded because it was concerned that only 1,000 patients had signed up as of a few weeks ago.
There are two big factors that are at play when it comes to the low numbers in Illinois. The first, which I already covered, is the inadequate list of qualifying conditions in Illinois. The other is the lack of safe access to medical marijuana. Illinois does not allow home cultivation, and the only legal way to obtain medical marijuana is from one of the licensed growers via a licensed dispensary. To date, not one gram of medical marijuana has been sold in Illinois. Once meds start rolling out, I expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of people applying to become a medical marijuana patient in Illinois.