CARLA K. JOHNSON
The Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) – As more states legalize medical marijuana, there's one stage in the process nobody wants to talk about: the part where people still have to break the law.
After growers obtain licenses, plan for security and build facilities, they then must obtain their first seeds or cuttings – while regulators turn a blind eye.
"It has to be hush-hush," said Bradley Vallerius, an attorney focused on the emerging industry in Illinois. "I've seen the moment where the client realizes this is a problem" – and wonders how they're supposed to get started.
The situation is known as the "immaculate conception" or the "first seed" problem. Those involved see it as an absurd consequence of the nation's patchwork of laws, with 23 states allowing medical marijuana sales, Colorado and Washington state allowing recreational use and a federal prohibition in place.
While marijuana may not be hard to find, getting the first seeds for medical operations often involves either descending into the underground market or crossing state lines – a violation of state and federal laws.