CBAI: Illinois should prepare for slow and steady on adult use of Cannabis
11/13/2019, 4:13 p.m.
New Year’s Day 2020 brings in a new decade and high expectations for Illinois’ legalization of adult cannabis use. The major advocacy voice for the cannabis industry wants to make sure Illinoisans are ready for a slow, steady rollout on Jan. 1.
The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI), or CannaBiz Illinois, represents Illinois’ cultivation centers and dispensaries that have served thousands of medical cannabis patients for the past several years, and will be growing and selling cannabis products for the general public when adult use becomes legal in 2020.
CBAI members are working around the clock to ensure eager customers can get their desired products as they prepare to stand in line and even have New Year’s parties. But the association wants to sound a cautious tone as Jan. 1 approaches:
- BE PATIENT: Cannabis is an agricultural plant, and it takes time to grow. It’s not manufactured or developed in a lab or on an assembly line. As seen in other states, demand will be great on Jan. 1 – and there will not be enough available right away to meet the needs of everyone in Illinois and coming from out of state to be part of the first wave of legal use here.
“There are many challenges ahead as our members try to provide as much quality product as we can on Day 1,” said Pamela Althoff, CBAI executive director. “We are working on a truncated timeframe, from the bill passing in late May and getting signed into law, to licenses being issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture later this summer. We will not sacrifice the high-quality standards our medical patients have come to expect.”
Althoff notes adult use comes as cultivators and dispensaries also are working to meet much higher demand under the state’s medical cannabis program, which has been greatly expanded over the past year through legislative action – and creating more product supply and demand challenges. “It’s a perfect storm – one we could not anticipate as we were working on our new laws in the spring legislative session,” she said.
- BE FLEXIBLE: Shortages are most likely to occur in flour/tobacco products, and favorite strains might not be as available as they were before Jan. 1. There are still plenty of other oils, vapes and other consumables available to meet patients and users needs, and they might just need to try to other types of cannabis products for a while.
“There are long lines and short supplies when the hot new IPhone comes out each year. We expect cannabis will be like that at the beginning,” Althoff said.
- PATIENTS COME FIRST: While adult use greatly expands who will buy and use cannabis, CBAI wants to make clear that medical patients always have and always will come first. Dispensaries are required to keep a 30-day inventory on hand for medical patients, a more challenging standard as more medical patients have entered the state’s program and the adult use ramp up arrives.
“We know some patients are apprehensive about the impact adult use rollout will have on their ability to get the products they need, when they need them,” Althoff said. “Our members are committed to ensuring medical patients are our top priority, and we are working hard to educate them and ensure they have the access to our products they need in these coming weeks.”
- CONSUME RESPONSIBLY: The nation will be watching as adults use cannabis legally for the first time in the new year. CBAI wants all patients and users to think carefully about what they use, how much they use, and what they do while using cannabis in these initial weeks.
“Some problems are inevitable from long lines to product shortages to some bad choices. But if we all commit to consuming responsibly, we can a strong message and build on the success story we have seen with our medical program where other states model Illinois for their programs,” Althoff said.
In the coming weeks, CBAI will be working on a statewide public education campaign on what consumers need to know about cannabis use.
“This is a really exciting and historic time for our state, our members and our patients and customers,” Althoff said. “This is the first step of many as our industry goes through major changes to meet extraordinary demands. We can expect a slow and methodical rollout for safe, top-quality products while creating jobs, equity, and community investment.”