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Up in smoke in Illinos

Secrecy just halted progress on a pot farm in East St. Louis, and don’t be surprised if secrecy causes Illinois’ entire medical marijuana experiment to implode.

East St. Louis boasts that the pot farm could be the biggest thing for East St. Louis since the Casino Queen, and yet it won’t tell the public where it will be located. City officials wanted to declare that the farm complies with city zoning rules, but without knowing where the site is, the public has no way of verifying whether that’s true. “Trust us” just doesn’t cut it, especially with something this major and controversial.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn agreed and issued a temporary restraining order. Thank goodness.

The state has also said “trust us,” and that isn’t playing well either. Illinois wrote the law to hide virtually every aspect of the selection process from public view, a big problem when companies are vying for lucrative contracts in a state with a storied reputation for cronyism and corruption. The public is in the dark about how the state selected license holders and whether the process fair.

One company that didn’t win a license in Kankakee alleges that the process was unfair. It went to court last week seeking an injunction, claiming that the state didn’t follow its own rule. We don’t know about that application, but the company that wants to set up shop in East St. Louis should have had that zoning verification included in its application, not be getting it after the fact.

A spokesman for new Gov. Bruce Rauner said the process the Quinn administration used exposes the state to “significant and costly litigation.” Wonderful. Here we go.

When Illinois was setting up the medical marijuana trial program, officials kept telling us they had looked at other states’ programs and learned from their mistakes. But obviously they didn’t learn enough.

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