CHICAGO – Illinois inched forward on the medical marijuana program application process Friday for patients and caregivers by posting the official forms online, but asked people not to submit anything until Sept. 2.
Application forms for would-be operators of cultivation centers and dispensaries haven't yet been posted, but some guidance for entrepreneurs who are preparing their paperwork was published Friday, too.
A notice on the state's medical cannabis program website says: "We anticipate the application window for Dispensary and Cultivation Center Applicants to be Monday, September 8 through September 22. More details will follow in the coming weeks." The state will grant permits for up to 21 cultivation centers and up to 60 dispensaries.
Aspiring patients and caregivers must submit applications before they can be approved for an official identification card that will permit them to purchase medical marijuana. And they'll need to get their doctors to mail in a written certification of their diagnosis. Those physician forms were posted online Friday.
Expecting a surge of applications, state officials decided to allow patients to apply in two waves based on the first letter of their last names. Patients whose last names begin with A through L and their designated caregivers can submit applications from Sept. 2 through Oct. 31. Patients whose last names begin with M through Z and their caregivers can submit applications from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.
Patients will pay $100 a year to apply for a medical marijuana card. Disabled people and veterans will pay $50 annually.
A state law enacted last year authorized a four-year pilot project that will expire in 2017, but so far, not a single marijuana seed has been planted. State officials have said the first products may be sold sometime next year.
When the harvest begins, patients will be able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a two-week period from a state-authorized dispensary. They must be diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions listed in the Illinois law. Those conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and dozens of other health problems.