Illinois to ‘Review Questions’ Raised About Licensing Process Before Setting Date for Cannabis Dispensary License Lottery

A group of companies behind unsuccessful licensing bids have filed a lawsuit against the state after regulators advanced 21 applicants to the lottery for 75 dispensary licenses.

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The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced plans Sept. 15 to “review questions” raised about its licensing process before setting a date for its cannabis dispensary license lottery, according to a Belleville News-Democrat report.

Regulators announced Sept. 3 that 21 social equity applicants would be included in a lottery to win the 75 licenses, with the lottery to be held later this month.

The 21 applicants, chosen from 1,667 total applications submitted, all received perfect scores, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report, but the licensing process has drawn criticism from those denied access to the lottery.

“Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s ... supposedly created a system that prioritizes social equity applicants, but what really was prioritized?” Vincent E. Norment, founder of Marijuana Hall of Fame and CMO of Parkway Dispensary, told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary Sept. 4. “It didn’t identify or represent race as one of the deciding factors, but it did identify social equity as one, [although] that only gave white men who had been convicted by the war on drugs a push to the front of the line automatically.”

Earlier this month, both industry stakeholders and lawmakers asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration to temporarily stop the process, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

In addition, a group of companies behind unsuccessful licensing bids filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 4 that alleges political motivation behind the number of businesses advancing to the lottery.

“The final date for the lottery for adult-use cannabis licenses had not been set as of today,” an IDFPR spokesperson told the Belleville News-Democrat. “As we continue to review questions that have been raised, our goal is to provide time to ensure that the process is fair and equitable. A date for the lottery will be announced by IDFPR."

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