Illinois is keeping information about applicants for medical marijuana business permits completely confidential, ostensibly to prevent political connections from coming into play when the state awards dispensary and cultivation licenses.
But the policy could have the opposite effect, making it more difficult to determine if applicants have political ties that could give them an advantage, some government watchdog groups argue.
Illinois state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, defended the decision, telling the Associated Press that keeping information about applicants secret will help ensure the process is “pure.”
Lang also said the confidentiality prevents applicants from getting an unfair leg up by gathering information about each other.
Illinois will award up to 60 dispensary licenses and 21 cultivation permits.
Several cannabis companies have hired lobbyists and other Illinois politicos to help them navigate the highly competitive application process.
If political favors do wind up affecting who gets a permit and who doesn’t, that will likely come out in court, Lang said, because the state’s MMJ law doesn’t protect the confidentiality shield from subpoenas. And there will likely be lawsuits from losing applicants after the 81 licenses are issued, Lang predicted.
“Everyone is going to know eventually all the applicants, all the scoring and all of the everything,” Lang told the AP.
Illinois’s short application process runs from Sept. 8-22.