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Illinois Judge Lifts Injunction on Issuing Cannabis Dispensary Licenses

Illinois Judge Lifts Injunction on Issuing Cannabis Dispensary Licenses

May 31, 2022: After almost a year of delay, an Illinois judge last week lifted an injunction that prevented the state from granting licenses to cannabis for recreational use retailers.

Although more legal action could put the process on hold once more, Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Mullen’s ruling may make it easier for state regulators to grant 185 licenses for adult-use cannabis dispensaries.

Last year, Mullen issued an order suspending the issuance of new licenses for recreational dispensaries in response to lawsuits filed by applicants alleging they were unjustly disqualified from lotteries used to award the permits. Since then, state cannabis authorities have approved a new lottery procedure to provide the plaintiffs an additional opportunity to obtain a license.

LICENSE ISSUING INVOLVED A LOTTERY SYSTEM

Entrepreneurs who identify as Black or Latino have contended that the state’s procedure for granting licenses for the adult use of cannabis has not resulted in a regulated marijuana market that accurately represents Illinois’ diversity.

The first 75 dispensary licenses were supposed to be granted two years ago in accordance with state law. However, due to issues with scoring the applications, only 21 of the 700 applicants were deemed eligible to participate in the lottery for the licenses.

After WAH Group LLC, one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, requested that the court lift the prohibition on granting new licenses, Mullen lifted the stay. The plaintiff benefits from lifting the ban because the company has won the rights to three licenses.

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois declared in March that new regulations would be implemented by the IDFPR to streamline the application procedure for dispensaries and eliminate obstacles for applicants who prioritize social equity.

Ryan Holz, an attorney for companies waiting to be granted new licenses and companies not included in the license lottery said, “People are super excited to move forward.” He admired the judge for the ban-lift.

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