State officials announced Thursday that the next round of long-delayed and highly sought after cannabis dispensary licenses will be awarded in a lottery later this month.
The applicants that will be included in the lottery for the 75 new licenses were informed earlier in the day after a global accounting firm finished grading more than 1,600 applications, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. All those applicants received perfect scores and qualify as social equity candidates, meaning they were afforded a leg-up in the application as part of the state’s efforts to build diversity in the overwhelmingly white industry.
“We are extremely gratified that every license in this first round will go to a social equity applicant,” said Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s key cannabis adviser. “Illinois is the first and only state in the nation to reach this equity milestone. Equity has been at the center of this legislation from day one of negotiations, as we worked to create a system that prioritizes social equity applicants and reinvests revenues in communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.”
The licenses, which were initially set to be issued on May 1, have been delayed months by the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted a nationwide travel ban for the outside grading firm KPMG.
Applicants with tied scores in each of the 17 regions will receive a single entry into a region’s lottery for each application fee that was paid, the IDFPR said. Licenses will be awarded conditionally and will be contingents on the businesses meeting various requirements, including equity provisions.
After all the outstanding licenses have been issued — including the other delayed permits to grow, infuse and transport weed — Hutchinson said the state will conduct a disparity study “to better understand how this new industry is working and correct any structural challenges to equity as we move forward in issuing hundreds of additional licenses and further developing this new industry.”