Illinois Gov Won’t Extend MMJ Pilot Program Yet

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In response to attempts by lawmakers to extend the timeline for the state’s medical cannabis pilot program, Gov. Bruce Rauner made it clear on Monday that he isn’t going to sign an extension.

“The governor believes there is a lot of time left to evaluate a pilot program, and we should not extend the program until it has been fully evaluated,” a Rauner spokeswoman said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

As the situation stands now, the state’s entire MMJ program is scheduled to expire at the end of 2017, after what was initially intended to be a four-year stint once the Legislature approved medical cannabis in 2013. But various delays have set the business licensing process back so far that dispensaries and cultivation sites will only have a two-and-a-half-year window – max – to actually operate until the pilot program expires.

Lawmakers could extend the program at that time, but the uncertainty makes it tough for entrepreneurs.

State Rep. Lou Lang, a longtime MMJ proponent, has introduced a measure that would start the four-year clock running when the first dispensary opens, which will probably be later this year. But if it passes the legislature, and Rauner vetoes it, that leaves Illinois MMJ entrepreneurs in the unenviable position of not knowing whether or not their businesses will still be legal in 2018.