Gov. Pat Quinn's administration concedes it missed its end-of-the-year target for deciding which businesses will receive permits to begin the state's medical marijuana program.
The lag will force cultivation center owners to break ground for new construction during the coldest winter months. The delay pushes back the harvest of the first cannabis crop. Patients will have to wait, perhaps until summer, before they can legally use the drug.
Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says the state is conducting "a comprehensive review" of applications to ensure only the most qualified are approved. She says an announcement will come when the review is finished.
Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the state's medical marijuana legislation, predicts permits will be awarded before Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's inauguration Jan. 12.