Incoming Illinois Gov. Blasts MMJ Licensing Process

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Illinois’ highlight secretive process for awarding medical marijuana business licenses doesn’t sit well with new governor-elect Bruce Rauner, who is calling for changes that would increase transparency.

Rauner said the process is “rigged” and criticized the fact that the identities of applicants, as well as those of the people who will decide who gets a license, will be kept confidential, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He has proposed disclosing financial information and even selling operating licenses for 21 growers and 60 retail stores to the highest qualified bidders, the newspaper said. Some 369 businesses have applied for licenses to grow or run medicinal cannabis facilities in the state.

Rauner’s proposal would require a change in the law, which would be difficult to pass since the state Legislature is controlled by Democrats and the licensing process has already started, the Tribune said.

But a compromise may be found by looking at the casino industry, which in 1990 kept license applications a secret until public outcry forced lawmakers to change direction. They instituted a disclosure policy before implementing a law, according to former Illinois Gaming Board attorneys Donna More and William Bogot, according to the Tribune.

Massachusetts does the opposite as Illinois – it discloses the name of applicants and evaluation scores determining who gets licenses. After Massachusetts issued 20 dispensary licenses, nearly half were rejected as misrepresentations, financial irregularities and conflicts of interest were reported.