Your Application Should Be Well Under Way! What’s New in Illinois Medical Cannabis Regulations

August 15, 2014
Michael McGrory


Until recently, those who hoped to obtain an Illinois medical cannabis cultivation center or dispensary permit have had to prepare their applications guided only by draft rules that were subject to change at any time. In July, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) approved the regulations that will control the implementation of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. And on Friday, the Department of Agriculture and Department of Financial and Professional Regulation released draft forms of the application. While industry hopefuls should have been working to put their application materials together for the last several months, they can now finalize both the organization and substance of their application packages.

Here is a look at a few of the revisions and clarifications JCAR made in finalizing the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program regulations.

Application Forms

The final draft regulations provide some detail with respect to what the regulatory agencies must include in their cultivation center and dispensary application forms. It is now evident that the application forms must include instructions, reflect the information and materials required of applicants, and state the total maximum number of points that can be awarded for each category that will be evaluated. The recently-released draft application forms reflect this revision. The rules also provide that applications can be submitted electronically.

Role of Physicians

The act itself strictly limits the role physicians can play in the operation of a cannabis cultivation center or a dispensary. Yet, the application process was set up to favor applicants with plans to perform scientific studies related to the medicinal use of cannabis. The final version of the regulations provides that cultivators and dispensaries can hire a physician as an independent contractor solely for the purpose of designing or conducting non-proprietary medical studies.

The Company You Keep

Both the act and previous incarnations of the regulations reveal that the state is highly concerned about the potential for criminals and unsavory types to become involved in Illinois’s cannabis industry. In a further effort to ensure that all industry players are above-board, the JCAR-approved rules allow regulators to deny a cultivation center or dispensary application if, in the regulators’ discretion, the applicant is not a person of good character, honesty, and integrity. The final rules even give the regulatory agencies the authority to deny an application if the applicant associates with people of “notorious or unsavory reputation.” The reasons for these new provisions are inarguably noble and reflect lessons learned by the state in other industries, such as gaming. However, this broad grant of discretionary authority in what otherwise is designed to be an objective merit-based selection process is sure to cause some apprehension among applicants.

Pre-existing Child Care Facilities

Dispensary applicants have struggled with what exactly “pre-existing” means in terms of schools and child care facilities. The final regulations define “pre-existing” as “existing as of the date the proposed dispensing organization submitted its application…” While this clarification does not offer a great degree of comfort to a dispensary applicant who has invested in a property and is concerned that a day care center will pop up before its application is filed, even a slight enhancement in certainty is helpful for purposes of planning.


The final draft of the Department of Agriculture’s regulations for cultivation centers includes an “Appendix A,” which is a list of pesticide active ingredients approved for use on cannabis plants. Cultivation center hopefuls in the process of crafting their cultivation plans welcome this list, since previous drafts merely referred to a list to come.