Illinois State is forced to halt the awarding process for adult-use craft cannabis licenses

The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected a plea to grant state officials the authority to select new craft cannabis license winners for the nascent market. 

As a direct effect of this, applicants are forced to wait in limbo. Meanwhile, others have already proceeded to file lawsuits regarding their status. 

State law stipulated that Illinois was obliged to distribute a maximum of 60 new craft cannabis grow licenses no later than December 21. 

However, 13 applicants have initiated legal action contesting their disqualifications during the process. 

An overview of the appeal into the cannabis business licensing process in Illinois

Based on the appeal, the plaintiffs are probing the court to declare the winners of 47 licenses, before naming the remaining 13 at a later date.

1837 Craft Grow LLC the main party asked the court to amend lower court orders that were allegedly roadblocking the state from awarding the next batch of licenses. 

Additionally, the appeal saw numerous applicants complaining about the substantial amount of money that was lost in a desperate attempt to preserve property, employees and investors. 

After denying the request, the court failed to comment on the reason why 1837’s attempt was dismissed. Industry insiders believe that the wait is likely to extend over months, or even years, as litigation lingers.

State law is pushing for the expansion of Illinois’ cannabis industry

Presently, rich multistate operators (MSO’s) command the lead in Illinois cannabis production. In fact, most of the existing players in the production space already had their foot in the door they were in possession of a medical license prior to the billion-dollar recreational market’s rollout in 2020.

Based on the state’s written cannabis law, the industry should be expanded to consider social equity applicants. A “social equity applicant” in Illinois is defined as a person residing in a poverty-stricken area or in a location that is renowned for having high cannabis-related arrest rates.

Following a license-awarding delay that spanned over more than a year, intermingled with ongoing accusations from unhappy applicants, the state decided to issue the initial 40 craft cultivation licenses. 

Luckily for the people who were on the receiving end of those 40 craft cannabis grow licenses, they will not be revoked. The reason being that they were awarded prior to the court prohibition.

As a handful of lawsuits continue to fight against the reasonableness of the cannabis licensing process in Illinois, an additional 185 new recreational dispensary licenses are also floating in limbo.