Illinois Cannabis Businesses Face Location Challenges Ahead of Adult-Use Market Launch
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Illinois Cannabis Businesses Face Location Challenges Ahead of Adult-Use Market Launch

Questions abound about where adult-use licensees can legally situate their businesses.

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August 29, 2019

Under Illinois’ adult-use cannabis law, the state’s 55 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries can become licensed to sell in the recreational market, as well as seek licenses for additional retail locations—but some licensees have expressed concerns with the regulations, particularly when it comes to where they can set up shop.

State Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, sponsors of the bill that legalized adult-use cannabis in the state, have argued for more flexibility in a rule that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is interpreting to mean that initial retail licenses would be available for existing medical dispensaries only at their current locations, according to a Crain’s Chicago Business report.

Cresco Labs, one of the state’s medical cannabis operators, for example, wants to move its Wrigleyville dispensary to a larger location, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. The company argues that some of the state’s initial dispensaries are too small to accommodate the growing demand of even the medical market, let alone the flood of adult-use customers when the new law goes into effect Jan. 1, and new dispensary licenses will not be awarded until May 2020.

Legislators may address this issue in subsequent legislation this fall, Crain’s Chicago Business says, although any changes would be cutting dangerously close to the adult-use market’s Jan. 1 start date.

To further complicate matters, Illinois municipalities are allowed ban adult-use cannabis businesses within their jurisdictions, further limiting where operators can set up shop.

In an Aug. 27 letter, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he appreciates the concerns raised by the state’s cannabis industry, but indicates that he will not take any immediate action to remedy the situation.

“At this time, the Department does not know how many medical dispensaries will not have the opportunity to operate at their current sites as many municipalities are still considering how to proceed,” Pritzer wrote. “The Department will continue to monitor the situation to assess and my office is more than willing to discuss potential solutions with you when we have a better understanding of the scope of the problem."