- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois officials released figures Thursday detailing how medical marijuana business applications are distributed around the state, the first indication of where competition will be fiercest for a limited number of cultivation center and dispensary permits.

The numbers show intense rivalry in some regions, but less competition - and none at all - in some areas. For instance, there are no applicants vying for dispensary licenses in DeKalb County. Meanwhile, in Evanston and Niles townships, where only one dispensary will be allowed, the applicants fighting for the lucrative business number 15.

The state’s new medical marijuana program will hold a second application period for districts where no qualified applications were submitted at some point after the first selection, although the date hasn’t been set, state officials said Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture received 159 applications for cultivation centers and expects to award 21 licenses, one in each Illinois State Police district.

Some of the stiffest competition is in northern Illinois. In Cook County, the state received nine applications for cultivation centers and will award two licenses. In Grundy, Kendall and Will counties, the state received 14 applications and will award one cultivation center license.

Central Illinois also drew high interest from the marijuana entrepreneurs. In District 9, which includes Sangamon and other counties, the state received eight applications and will award one cultivation center license. In District 10, which includes Champaign and other counties, the state received 11 applications and will award one license.

Southern Illinois saw its share of competition. In the state’s southernmost region, a district that includes Alexander and Pulaski counties, seven groups are competing for one license.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation received 214 applications for dispensaries and expects to grant up to 60 permits.

State officials have said they hope to award the first round of licenses before the end of the year. The first legal marijuana would be available to registered patients in the spring of 2015.

“We really feel as though we have a robust variety of applications across the state for geographic distribution,” said Bob Morgan, coordinator of the state’s medical cannabis program.

Patients must have a written certification from a doctor and get a background check, then pay $100 a year to apply for a medical marijuana card. Disabled people and veterans will pay $50 annually. Patients must be diagnosed with one of the dozens of qualifying medical conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV or hepatitis C.

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Online:

Medical Cannabis Pilot Program: https://mcpp.illinois.gov

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AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson.

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