1st Illinois MMJ Clinic Under Fire

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has filed a formal complaint against Good Intentions LLC, the state’s first medical marijuana clinic.

Dr. Brian Murray opened Good Intentions in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago in July, shortly after Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois.

Regulators say Murray cannot operate because the state has yet to implement the medical marijuana laws, which go into the books on Jan. 1. The doctor is under fire for “pre-certification for medical cannabis without conducting physical examinations” and “establishing a legitimate physician-patient relationship.”

Illinois will roll out its medical marijuana program later in 2014 after regulators decide on a licensing process.

Entrepreneurs in new medical marijuana states are increasingly trying to get a jump on the market, opening businesses soon after laws are passed. But as the Good Intentions case shows, jumping the gun before regulations are finalized can paint a target on your back.

Murray argues that he has not been giving out cannabis, but merely establishing relationships with potential patients.

First visits to the clinic involve a review of the state law, and potential patients leave with a medical history form they are required to fill out. If the patient is diagnosed with one of the dozens of ailments that the state has deemed to be treatable with medical marijuana, he or she can come back for a physical examination.

But the state financial department said Illinois law does not allow for medical cannabis clinics or practices that exist solely to offer cannabis certificates.

“We did that to avoid what happened in California, where physician offices or even websites were created solely to provide ID cards for medical marijuana,” Rep. Lou Lang told Crain’s Chicago Business. “It’s a sham.”