Some Illinois teens could potentially be working in the medical marijuana industry this summer thanks to a generous donation to the city of Bloomington for the creation of a labor program for local youngsters.
Earlier this week, Curative Health, Inc., a medical marijuana corporation based in New York, submitted a check for $20,000 to the city council in hopes of greasing the political wheels enough to earn themselves a license to operate a dispensary within the city limits. The contribution, which was reportedly a suggestion made by Mayor Tari Renner, is intended to create summer work opportunities for the city’s at-risk teens.
A recent report in The Pantagraph indicated that while Curative Health has not been approved for a contract in Bloomington, the company operates a dispensary in Chicago and is still in the running for a cultivation license in Elgin’s District 2. And while it appears the city council may have already taken the company’s donation to the bank, City Attorney Jeff Jurgens said there is not much hope that they will be awarded a license because cultivation and dispensary permits have already been issued to other businesses.
Although the city of Bloomington is not actually a deciding factor in the approval process of applicants looking to grow or sell marijuana in their neck of the woods, the guidelines issued by the state encourage cannabis companies to establish relationships with local governments in an attempt to develop programs aimed at preventing substance abuse. So, when Mayor Renner expressed interest in developing a program to provide summer jobs for at-risk youth, the executives for Curative Health came through with the cash to get it up and running.
Unfortunately, the Illinois medical marijuana regulatory guidelines do not offer any protection for those members of the cannabis trade who contribute legal bribes to the municipalities for which they hope to serve. In this particular case, while Curative Health reportedly made good on the donation to Mayor Renner’s summer job program, it did not help them seal the deal to open a dispensary in Bloomington. So, it stands to reason that medical marijuana companies are pouring thousands upon thousands of dollars into Illinois communities with the real potential for nothing in return.
Yet, for Curative Health CEO Nicholas Vita, shelling out preliminary kickbacks is just the price of doing business—a welcomed opportunity to better the states and communities for which they rely on for survival.
“We view our business as being stewards of programs for the state where there is unmet need,” he said. “And Mayor Renner’s program really resonated with us. It was an unmet need and it seemed to be timely.”