Illinois Cannabis Retail Licenses Still in Limbo After Third and Final Licensing Lottery
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Illinois Cannabis Retail Licenses Still in Limbo After Third and Final Licensing Lottery

Final licenses cannot be issued until lawsuits brought forth by applicants are resolved.

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August 24, 2021

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) conducted its third and final lottery Aug. 19 to award 75 cannabis retail licenses, but final licenses cannot be issued until lawsuits brought forth by applicants are resolved.

WAH Group LLC alleges in its lawsuit that regulators mistakenly excluded the company from Illinois’ first licensing lottery, which took place July 29.

WAH Group claims state officials told the company that it would qualify for the next lottery, which occurred Aug. 5, but WAH alleges in its lawsuit that the scoring process was flawed because regulators awarded bonus points to applications submitted by veteran-owned businesses.

WAH Group revealed that one of the company’s partners is a veteran during a supplementary scoring period, after applicants learned that those extra points were needed to receive a perfect score on their applications and qualify for the licensing lottery, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

In an Aug. 16 ruling, Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius ordered IDFPR to include WAH Group in the Aug. 19 lottery, where the company ultimately won two of the 75 available dispensary licenses.

Mazie Harris, WAH Group’s attorney and one of its registered managers, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the company now intends to drop its lawsuit, which Jacobius previously said could prompt a redo of Illinois’ licensing process.

“WAH does not have standing to pursue the constitutionality of the veteran points, and it would not be in their best interest if the veteran points are ruled unconstitutional,” Harris told the news outlet.

The full list of winners in the Aug. 19 licensing lottery can be found here.

Last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced the series of three lotteries to award 185 new cannabis retail licenses. Seventy-five new licenses were initially announced in May 2020, and 110 additional licenses were created this past spring.

The licensing process has been lengthy and marred by controversy and litigation. In another lawsuit, two applicants, Suite Greens LLC and So Baked Too LLC, claim state officials wrongfully forced them to give up three of their spots in the Aug. 19 lottery, although each company ultimately earned a license last week.

“Honestly, I’m just in shock. This doesn’t feel real,” Britteney Kapri, a partner in So Baked, told the Chicago Sun-Times, adding that she is proceeding with caution. “Who knows what will happen?"