Illinois’ medical marijuana expansion, hemp regulations hit road block

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Illinois lawmakers ended this legislative session Wednesday without addressing medical marijuana expansion or regulations for hemp products.

According to the Chicago Tribune, MMJ advocates blamed Illinois-based multistate operator Green Thumb Industries (GTI) for sinking an omnibus bill that would have allowed every dispensary beyond the 55 original MMJ retailers to serve patients without levying a retail tax.

Other stipulations under the proposal included:

  • Allowing curbside pickup and drive-thru windows.
  • Permitting online doctor exams.
  • Reducing barriers for those with criminal records to work in the industry.
  • Repealing certain cultivator and craft-grower taxes.

The Cannabis Equity Coalition of Illinois blamed GTI for lobbying against the MMJ expansion and called for a boycott of the company’s products and its Rise stores.

GTI responded with a statement highlighting its support for patient access but criticizing the final language in the bill “that was neither operationally viable nor comprehensive enough for what Illinois patients deserve, such as requiring patient lanes or offering delivery services,” the Tribune reported.

The hemp bill had bipartisan support, easily passing the Illinois Senate but stalling in the House of Representatives.

The Wednesday stalemate prompted Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, to call for regulations for the largely unchecked hemp-products industry in the state.

The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which represents large operators, pushed for banning the sale of such products, including unregulated intoxicating hemp-derived products sold at gas stations, convenience stores and smoke shops.