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Sneed exclusive: Quinn passes on medical marijuana

Up in smoke!

It’s a no!

In the wake of Gov. Pat Quinn’s exit from office Monday, Sneed has learned he will NOT give a green light to Illinois license applications to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana — and will toss a safety wrench into the marijuana mix.

Sneed has also learned Gov. Quinn, who had been urging caution in the state’s medical marijuana process, will sign legislation Monday to further tighten the new medical marijuana laws.

Under the changes Quinn is signing into law, the Department of Agriculture will have the power not only to revoke marijuana growers’ licenses, but also to suspend them.

Quinn will also announce the first dozen appointments to the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, which will ultimately have 16 members, including patients and doctors.

Translation: The Illinois Department of Agriculture and Public Health will NOT issue medical marijuana licenses before Quinn leaves office and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will inherit the responsibility.

Although Quinn championed and signed the law to make medical marijuana available to those suffering from debilitating illnesses, his refusal to issue licenses to grow and distribute pot will surely engender criticism for delaying help to hundreds of severely ill Illinois residents who were recently approved for pot use.

“Gov. Quinn believes it’s critical to get relief to those who need it as quickly as possible, but it also needs to be done right,” said a top Sneed source in the Quinn administration. “There is more work to do at state agencies in charge of awarding the licenses for cultivation sites and dispensaries,” the source added.

“Much has been done already and the rest will be administered by the new administration,” the source added. “This is not something that should be rushed out the door. It’s got to be done in a fair and careful way in accordance with the law.”

The medical marijuana laws allow for up to 21 growth centers to open throughout the state, and up to 60 permits for dispensaries pending license approval.

Although medical marijuana legislation went into effect last January — and applications submitted to cultivate and dispense pot have been sitting in Gov. Quinn’s in-box since September — pot still can’t be grown or sold in Illinois until applications were approved.

Gov.-elect Rauner has also criticized the marijuana selection process as secretive and subject to cronyism and suggested auctioning the licenses to the highest qualified bidders.

Big buck shot: Illinois has collected more than $5 million in nonrefundable fees from the applicants.

Dan Linn, director of Illinois NORML, recently told the Sun-Times that once the licenses are awarded it would take about four months to grow, harvest and prepare marijuana for the people suffering from illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy who are waiting for it.

That doesn’t include the time needed to set up growing facilities.

Approximately 1,800 people submitted some or all of the application, which includes a sign-off from a treating doctor. Almost 13,000 people in total began the process online, according to state spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

Stay tuned.