Cannabis Dispensary Licenses for Minority Entrepreneurs Delayed in Illinois

Licenses for minority would-be cannabusiness owners are being put off until August or later.

Unfortunately, the cannabis entrepreneurs looking to establish a dispensary in Illinois will have to wait a month or longer to learn whether they’ve won one of the 75 dispensary licenses for the state.

While the licenses were supposed to be given on May 1, Gov. JB Pritzker indefinitely suspended the decision with an executive order he signed just before. He cites difficulties regarding the coronavirus pandemic and glitches in application processing as the reason behind this decision.

These 75 licenses were supposed to be awarded simultaneously. However, some of the applicants will find out as early as next month, with others waiting until at least the beginning of August.

Overseer of the state’s cannabis program, former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, claims that the delay is crucial to ensure the licenses are issued properly and to dodge lawsuits that could occur from applicants who don’t receive a license.

Hutchinson claims, “My biggest worry is that any delay … makes it very hard for the people, who are the entire intent of this, to weather.”

The cannabis industry is overwhelmingly represented by white men. These licenses were meant to prioritize so-called Social Equity applicants.

Qualifying for social equity status means a minimum of 51% of an ownership group applying for a state license must either have a family member arrested on a cannabis-related charge, have been arrested themselves for a cannabis-related offense, or live within an area that was severely impacted by the war on drugs. Or the group must have more than 10 full-time employees with a minimum of 51% of them qualifying for social equity status.

According to Hutchinson, the company responsible for the grading system stopped its employees from traveling, slowing down the process of checking applications. During the review process, some applicants had the same score, but the rules expired on June 6.

Hutchinson filed a set of permanent tie-breaker rules the day before, and the state should be able to choose which applications will receive a license by mid-July after determining the highest scores.

Owning a dispensary is just one way to break into this industry. The state is expecting to encourage craft weed farms, transportation companies, infusing companies and more.

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