Illinois to Increase Number of Recreational Dispensaries

Stephen Andrews
14 Jun 2022

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued a press release Friday, June 10, confirming it will grant 185 dispensary licenses to applicants in three waves throughout the summer. The announcement follows a recent judge's ruling which ended court suspension of issuing new recreational dispensary permits in Illinois.

Last month, an Illinois judge lifted an injunction that prevented state regulators from issuing licenses for recreational cannabis retailers. The ruling paved the way for regulators to grant the permissions now.

Cook County Circuit Judge Mullen ended the court ordered suspension of new adult-use dispensary licenses late last April, removing a measure that remained effective for almost a year. The courts had the licensing suspended as they were considering lawsuits by businesses that claimed unfair exclusion from lotteries.

Black and Latino applicants in Illinois have complained they were subjected to unfair treatment as they attempted to join the state's legal cannabis sector. Reportedly, their groups were granted just 21 licenses for full-size growers, while almost all other permits had been allotted to white owners who were already well established on the market. 

State regulators now plan a corrective lottery, giving everyone a fair chance. 

As the injunction has been lifted, state regulators will grant 185 new licenses in three waves, the first of which is before July 22 and the other two throughout August. 

Still, the licensing speed will be determined by how quickly applicants comply with checks and verification.

"Today marks the beginning of the next chapter of the most equitable adult-use cannabis program in the country," Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement on Friday. "After signing the most equity-centered program in the country into law, expunging thousands of low-level cannabis convictions, and investing tens of millions of dollars in cannabis proceeds in communities failed by the war on drugs, we are about to more than double the number of adult use cannabis dispensaries in Illinois.

"This means countless more opportunities for communities that have suffered from historic disinvestment to join this growing industry and ensure its makeup reflects the diversity of our state," Pritzker said. 

Illinois state agency confirmed it is working to finalize plans for the three corrective lotteries scheduled for the summer. The agency will issue updates on the corrective processes on its official website.

A spokesperson from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said, "Our agency is ready to work with applicants throughout the next stage so they may obtain their licenses and join Illinois' robust adult use cannabis industry."

Illinois is one of 19 U.S. states where the recreational use of marijuana is legal. The state has generated over $1 billion in total cannabis sales during 2020, including $669 million in recreational products and over $365 million in medicinal goods. 

According to cannabis research firm Headset, by 2025, Illinois is projected to generate $2.55 billion in annual cannabis retail.

Stephen Andrews