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Licensed cannabis transporters say illegal deliveries are happening without consequence

Cannabis transporters sue, say nothing being done about illicit operators
Cannabis transporters sue, say nothing being done about illicit operators 02:43

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Legally in Illinois, marijuana is supposed to be transported in a vehicle with cameras, GPS, and no rear windows or markings.

But illegal deliveries are allegedly happening by those without licenses in minivans and other noncompliant vehicles – with little consequence.

In a new lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Agriculture, more than a dozen licensed cannabis transporters accuse the state of failing to regulate how marijuana is being moved – despite strict and expensive regulations in place.

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar spoke to legal cannabis transporters, who say they will be forced out of business if the state does not enforce its own standards.

Those transporters also say they have evidence of illegal drop-offs. They add that without regulation and enforcement from the state, there really is no incentive for growers and dispensaries to hire the transporters.

Norberto Brown of Reliavan Transport and Logistics has poured thousands of dollars into his truck. He has cameras mounted inside, and a system to accommodate all the products that require refrigeration.

Brown intended to transport marijuana legally throughout the state.

"So we have to do all these steps - and for us to come up, zero," Brown said. "Haven't made one delivery, at all."

Brown was on the of the first to get a cannabis transporter license. He custom-fit his truck to follow state guidelines – and thus, there are no back windows, and it is equipped with cameras, GPS, and other safety features.

Transporter Berwyn Thompkins, of ACC Transportation, was shocked by pictures he says prove marijuana transportation laws are being skirted with no consequence. The pictures were entered as evidence in the lawsuit.

Supplied to CBS 2

"We were just blown," Thompkins said, "because we're doing all this stuff to be compliant."

One such picture shows a minivan apparently delivering cannabis. Another shows a dropoff allegedly made by a company without an operation license – in a vehicle with rear windows.

"We do think it is a resource issue," said attorney Ryan Holz.

Holz filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Agriculture on behalf of 13 licensed transporters – accusing the state of failing to enforce its own rules surrounding cannabis transportation.

"You basically have the market undercut - and the transporters who are compliant just really don't have a any," Holz said.

"We're bleeding money trying to stay afloat," said Thompkins.

"I can't keep paying the licensing fee every year to make zero sales," added Brown.

De Mar asked Brown if he is optimistic things will change so that he can stay in business.

"No," Brown said, "I'm not optimistic at all."

We asked the Department of Agriculture if they have issued any citations connected to the transportation of marijuana. A spokesperson declined to comment for this story – citing pending litigation. 

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