Illinois’ pilot medical marijuana program has begun accepting applications from patients – but only for those whose last names begin with the letter “A” through “L.”
In order to manage the expected volume of applicants, the Illinois Department of Public Health has staggered the application period, with a first round now underway and a second beginning Nov. 1 for those with last names beginning with “M” through “Z.”
Patients must pay a $100 annual application fee. Military veterans and patients on Social Security Disability Income will pay $50 for the application.
Staggering the time frame for applications will not affect when patients can actually purchase medical marijuana, since marijuana dispensaries and growing centers must also apply and be approved. It is likely to be well into 2015 by the time those applications are approved, facilities are built and the first crop of marijuana is cultivated and available to patients.
While medical marijuana is expected to become available in Illinois in 2015, early predictions are that it will not come cheap.
Steep fees accompany the medical marijuana plan, including a $25,000 application fee and a $200,000 permit fee for grow centers. Dispensaries must pay a $5,000 application fee and have $400,000 in liquid assets.
There will be extensive requirements for inventory tracking and security that are expected to drive up costs. Because there will only be 21 grow centers allowed initially, the demand could outstrip supply, further driving up costs.
There will also be a state 7% wholesale and 1% retail tax, plus potential local taxes.