Rauner Issued Marijuana Licenses Before FBI Background Checks

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner awarded licenses this week to 70 medical marijuana businesses before out-of-state criminal background checks could be done through an FBI database, as required under state law.

Rauner issued the licenses Monday after conducting an internal review that noted flaws in former Gov. Pat Quinn’s handling of the license process. But Rauner’s announcement didn’t mention the lack of national criminal background checks for the new industry he’d just launched.

Illinois State Police officials told The Associated Press that no out-of-state criminal history checks have been done. The agency is still waiting for the FBI to approve access to its database. In addition, about 1,000 patients have been approved for the program without federal criminal checks.

It’s not clear whether crimes will turn up in the checks or whether any businesses will lose their licenses. “It would have been better if (federal background checks) had been done beforehand,” said Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the Illinois law, but he added it was important to get the program started for patients who are waiting for relief.

Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said the governor’s office knew the FBI had not yet authorized use of its database. “We do not believe it poses any risk to the integrity of the program, because as soon as the FBI grants approval, these checks can be run and licensing actions still can be taken,” Trover said.

It’s the latest twist in a program troubled by delays. Quinn, a Democrat, left office without issuing the licenses, saying he didn’t want to rush the process and would turn it over to Rauner, a Republican.

– Read the entire article at Chicago Tribune.