Would-be marijuana shop owners breathed a sigh of relief Friday morning as a Cook County judge lifted a stay that had delayed state officials from issuing nearly 200 licenses for cannabis dispensary operators. […]
Removing the stay will allow the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to begin issuing licenses to 185 candidates who had been awarded them in a 2021 lottery that was itself delayed months as the state struggled to implement rules for the drawing. Lawsuits, COVID-19-related delays and administrative gaffes ground the process to a near halt.
WAH Group LLC, which had disputed the results of the lottery, this week withdrew its opposition to releasing the licenses. WAH Group will continue to litigate the rules for the state to conduct “corrective lotteries” for another 50 or so licenses later this year, attorney Mazie Harris said Friday.
This stay was just so ridiculous. WAH Group won a license in a lottery last August, for crying out loud.
By law, the first 75 licenses were supposed to have been issued almost two years ago, but were delayed by problems with scoring the license applications.
“People are super excited to move forward,” said attorney Ryan Holz, who represents businesses in line to get new licenses, and some who were excluded from the license lotteries.
But, he cautioned, there’s also a real concern that businesses that were excluded may ask for a new court order to hold up the licenses again.
Circuit judges shouldn’t have this much power.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced the Circuit Court of Cook County has lifted the stays that enjoined 185 Conditional Adult Use Cannabis Dispensing Organization Licenses to applicants selected in three lotteries in 2021.
In anticipation of receiving further guidance in a related federal case, IDFPR anticipates releasing detailed information on next steps for applicants as soon as that guidance is issued. The federal case concerns objections to the state’s residency requirements for dispensary owners.
“Today is a key development towards our ultimate goal of creating the most diverse, inclusive, and robust adult use cannabis industry of any state in the country,” said Mario Treto, Jr., Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. “We stand ready to swiftly move forward in ensuring Illinois’ standing as a national leader in the advancement of cannabis equity.”
To ensure fairness for all applicants and correct any errors in the lottery process, IDFPR is also working on finalizing plans for three corrective lotteries to be held in June (one for each of the cannabis dispensary license lotteries held in 2021). Details on those lotteries will be announced by the Department when finalized. Those updates will be available on IDFPR’s Adult Use Cannabis Program webpage.