The state’s agriculture department is working to get the regulatory framework up and running for the adult-use recreational cannabis law.
After Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted the measure last week, legal sales of recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older are expected to begin Jan. 1. But first, the rules and framework for recreational sales need to be completed.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan said state officials want to make sure there’s plenty of product for when retail sales begin.
“We’re going to be overseeing and regulating the growing, the processing, the craft grow and the transportation,” Sullivan said. “Big role, a lot of responsibility.”
To do all of that, he said the department needs more people.
“Getting people in place is really going to be one of our first steps, because it’s going to take more manpower to do that,” Sullivan said. “So we’re reviewing that to make sure we’ve got the proper staff there.”
He said there’s a lot of work to do, but a lot of it may be replicating work the department is already doing.
“Because of our experience on the medicinal side, we’re going to be using a lot of cut and paste [of] some of that language that’s going to help us get through this rule-making we think a little bit faster,” Sullivan said.
Investors looking to secure a license in the emergency industry in Illinois will need money. There’s a $5,000 license application, and an additional $5,000 for a processor license, $10,000 for a transporter license, $40,000 for a craft grower license and $60,000 for a dispensary license. Existing medical cannabis growers and sellers can apply for additional licensing to sell for recreational use, something expected to put them first in line for the recreational market.
Sullivan said interested investors should not contact his agency. He said he won’t be involved with potential licensees.
“We’ve had a lot of people reach out to us and we’ve simply said we have a regulatory role to play here,” Sullivan said. “We don’t want to be influenced either direction on how we move forward so we’re just making sure, we’re trying to keep it internal and do what we need to do.”
Sullivan couldn’t immediately say how THC levels in cannabis for adult consumption would be tested. He said the department will be testing industrial hemp for THC levels, but that’s a program already up and running and separate from recreational cannabis.
Other state agencies are also taking the necessary steps to implement their parts of the adult-use cannabis program.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said it’s taking the necessary steps for the licensing of dispensaries, agents, and training organizations within the timelines established by the legislation.
Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly said his agency is working to implement the necessary functions to regulate the cannabis industry. ISP is also working to find the best tools to catch intoxicated drivers.